By Sheikh Qayoom
Srinagar, Jan 18 (IANS): For Jammu & Kashmir's most renowned neurologist - Dr Sushil Razdan - leaving his home and clinic in the Jawahar Nagar area of Srinagar city was out of the question despite the fact that almost all other prominent Kashmiri Pandits had abandoned their homes to escape the wrath of militants.
Dr Razdan continued his daily practice without giving a thought to what was happening all around him. Patients have always lined up over months to manage an appointment with this doctor who has become a celebrity over the years.
"I was an ordinary Kashmiri doing my bit to alleviate the pain and suffering of patients across Kashmir. I was in competition with nobody after having voluntarily given up my job at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) in Srinagar."
"I had never agreed to be part of any official body simply because I hardly had any spare time to attend to such a responsibility. I would be left alone since I was nobody's enemy," Dr Razdan recalled when talking about those eventful days of January 1990 when the local Pandit community was forced to leave the Valley.
He said even during the worst periods of January 1990 he had patients at his clinic from different parts of the Valley.
"They braved curfews, protest shutdowns and what not, to reach my clinic and I could not be seen as a doctor who failed his patients," he said.
When the majority of his community had left the Valley, Dr Razdan's practice as a neurologist seemed to have outlived the troubles other members of his community had been going through.
Out of the blue, a doctor friend of his entered his clinic around 8.30 p.m. on that cold winter January evening. The two had worked together at SKIMS.
"You must leave immediately. I heard people are planning to harm you. Kindly don't trust anybody because nobody is in control of the mindless violence that is going on here. You have your father, mother and family. I implore you to leave before you are harmed".
"These words of my friend sounded like the drums of destiny. I was completely benumbed to understand why would someone want me out of the way. I went to my wife and narrated what I had heard. We decided not to take any chance. I firmly believed it must be some misunderstanding, but we must leave the Valley for a few days till the dust settled."
"The next day we flew to Jammu and here I am for the last over three decades now," Dr Razdan smiled with a bitterness and sarcasm that cannot be delivered through tears.
He did not carry anything except his clothes. His household goods and other valuables were sent by his friend after almost three months to his Bhagwati Nagar home in Jammu city.
His father, Master Satlal Razdan has been one of the most respected school teachers of Kashmir. He taught at the Tyndale Biscoe Memorial School in Srinagar.
He always taught his students, those included two later chief ministers and scores of others who distinguished themselves in different walks of life, the motto of the school, 'In All Things Be Men'.
What had happened to that 'manhood' of Kashmir in which a brother could not now stand by his brother? This was a question 'Masterji' was battling to understand till his death in Jammu, away from his home and students.
Dr Razdan has one of the most roaring medical practices as a clinician in Jammu where he gets patients not only from the Valley, but from all over north India.
He is immediately recognised and respected wherever he goes in the city and outside.
"My heart is still there. They took me out of Kashmir, but they couldn't take Kashmir out of me. How can an entire society forget the motto which my father taught to thousands of students? What has happened to 'the Men' Masterji spoke about all his life?"
Dr Razdan's narrative is universal for thousands of Kashmiri Pandits who are living in their country, but not in their homeland.
Where have all the "men" gone who kept the torch of compassion, tolerance and religious brotherhood alive?