Rajat Sharma

How a brave Kashmiri Pandit daughter challenged those who shot her father in Srinagar

akbToday I will write about the story of a brave Kashmiri Pandit girl who openly challenged terrorists belonging to The Resistance Force. This new terror outfit comprises of Lashkar and Hizbul killers. The daughter challenged the killers to come and debate with her on why they shot her 68-year-old pharmacist father Makhan Lal Bindroo, from point blank range, killing him on the spot on Tuesday evening. His body was riddled with four bullets.

Bindroo was a well-known Kashmiri Pandit businessman who did not migrate from the Valley during the onset of militancy, during the Nineties, when lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits fled after threats from terror groups. He continued to stay in Srinagar, and ran his medicine shop, defying threats from radicals. He and his wife ran the shop, which, over the years, became a trusted name for quality medicines. Bindroo used to help Kashmiris, both Hindus and Muslims, and even went to the extent of giving money to poor people for treatment. On Wednesday, hundreds of Hindus and Muslims in the Valley joined Bindroo’s funeral in a rare show of brotherhood. This, in essence, is Kashmiriyat that has thrived in the Valley for centuries.

It was during this funeral, that Bindroo’s daughter Dr Shraddha, an associate professor of medicine at PGI Chandigarh, openly challenged the terrorists and called them cowards. Her video soon went viral over social media. In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Wednesday night, we showed the video of Shraddha heaping scorn at the killers. Dr Shraddha said, “My father was a Kashmiri Pandit. He will never die. Terrorists can only kill his body, but my father will always remain alive in spirit. My father was always a fighter, he always said, ‘I will die with my shoes on’. You can kill one person, but you cannot kill the spirit of Makhan Lal. Whoever shot dead my father, come in front of me. My father gave me education, but politicians gave you guns and stones. You want to fight with guns and stones? This is cowardice. All these politicians are misusing you as tools.”

Without a drop of tear in her eyes, Dr Shraddha said: “Let the man who shot my father while he was working, if you have the guts and courage, come and have a face-to-face debate with me. You won’t be able to utter a word. All you can do is throw stones and shoot people from behind.”

The brave doctor said: “I am an associate professor. I started from zero. My father started his business from a bicycle. My brother is a famous diabetologist. My mother sits in the shop. This is what Makhan Lal Bindroo made us. He was a Kashmiri Pandit, he will never die. I am a Hindu and I have read the Holy Quran. The Holy Quran says, you may kill the body, but the spirit lives on. My father’s spirit will always remain alive….He was an awesome person who served Kashmir and Kashmiriyat. By throwing stones and firing bullets, you can never win Kashmir or Kahmiriyat.”

Dr Shraddha went on: “I studied in Kashmir. I was the only Hindu girl studying in school. I did not study in Oxford. My father gave us education. All Kashmiri Pandits give education to their children, who later go to the US, UK and work in other parts of the world. ..I do not need your sympathy. My father has made me strong by imparting education and will power.”

The killers after shooting M L Bindroo in Iqbal Chowk, went on a killing spree, and murdered two other civilians, including a vendor selling bhelpuri. The valley has, of late, witnessed terrorists carrying out acts of cowardice by targeting soft targets like unarmed civilians. Bindroo’s son, Dr Siddharth Bindroo, a diabetologist, spoke to India TV reporter Manzoor Mir, and spoke about how his father used all his resources to procure medicines whenever they were in short supply. He even flew to Delhi to procure medicines to help Kashmiris leaving in the Valley, his son said. “My father was not murdered, he became a martyr. As long as he was alive, he devoted his life to Kashmir and promotion of Kashmiriyat.”

National Conference patron and former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah met Bindroo’s family members and consoled them. Dr Abdullah described the killers as ‘shaitaans’, ‘darinda’ (savages). He appealed to Bindroo’s family members not to migrate from the Valley after his death. Dr Abdullah advised Dr Siddharth Bindroo to stay in Kashmir and carry forward the rich legacy of his father. “If you leave the valley, the terrorists will achieve their aim of demolishing Kashmiriyat”, he said.

Bindroo’s widow was inconsolable. The family members are yet to decide whether to stay on in the Valley or not. Daughter Shraddha told India TV: “My father devoted his entire life for helping Kashmiris, and yet he was murdered in cold blood. Our trust has been broken. Our trust has been murdered. How can we trust promises that are being made? We love Kashmir, Kashmiriyat, and the beautiful ambience here. We do not hate the terrorists who killed my father.”

“ I only want to tell the Kashmiri youths. If you want to win the battle, win the hearts of people. If you want to move forward in life, get education first. If you want to win Kashmir, serve Kashmiris first. If you continue to kill, you will destroy yourselves. Neither will you get Kashmir nor will you remain alive”, Dr Shraddha said.

Controlling her emotions, she said: ”I am a Kashmiri. I know the problems that Kashmiris have faced. Many Kashmiris have suffered. But to shoot a man who was helping Kashmiris? What message are you conveying to future generations? You cannot counter hate with hate. To shoot a man who was working for Kashmiris, from behind, is cowardice. My father taught me how to be brave as lions. He made us mentally very strong. I was the only Hindu girl studying among Muslim students in the valley. All my colleagues behaved well with me. Muslims came to our home for dinner.”

On asking whether her family would continue to stay in the valley, Shraddha said: “We are not afraid, but our trust has been broken. There is no incentive left to stay here. What is the point in staying with people who break your trust?”

On Wednesday, the Mayor of Srinagar announced that the road on which Bindroo’s medicine shop was located, from Haft Chinar Chowk to Jehangir Chowk, will be renamed M L Bindroo Road.

I salute Makhan Lal Bindroo and his daughter Shraddha for displaying courage and strong will. Only a brave daughter can give advice to the killers of her father to abjure violence and follow the path of education. But terrorists neither have a heart nor brains, they do not believe in religion or humanity, they neither know the true Kashmir nor Kashmiriyat. They only know how to spill blood and fire bullets. They understand the language of gun. They need a matching treatment. Those who killed M L Bindroo deserve death. Because they are enemies of Kashmir and killers of Kashmiriyat.

I remember, in 1990, more than 45,000 Kashmiri Pandit families were forced to migrate from the Valley when terrorist outfits went on a killing spree. Nearly 1.5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits are still living as homeless in their own country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government started the process of rehabilitating Kashmiris and the efforts have shown results. Till date, more than 4,000 Kashmiri Pandits have returned to the Valley. The return of KPs is gradually gaining pace. And the handlers of terror outfits sitting across the border are feeling uneasy. The perpetrators of terror then decided to target the most known face of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, in order to strike terror in the hearts of people.

I am confident that Pakistan’s conspiracy to strike fear in the hearts of Kashmiri Pandits who want to return to the Valley will be foiled in the long run. They killed one Makhan Lal Bindroo, but thousands of Makhan Lals will surely come forward to keep the flame of Kashmiriyat alive.

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