Kashmiri arts are bringing Muslims and Hindu together

In the early 1990s, a lot of Kashmiri Pandits had to leave their hometown after receiving threats from the rising Muslim militancy which had been opposing the Indian rule in the state. An estimated 200,000 Kashmiri Hindus were displaced due to rising terror and they made their homes in other parts of India.

But a unique art exhibition is trying to bridge the gap between those who left and those who remain. Bringing both Hindu and Muslim artists together has struck an emotional chord with the Kashmiris.
In one of the paintings by an artist named Chushool Mahaldar shows a naked man who is bound by barbed wires. He is having a smile on his face and wearing the sacred Hindu thread on his body. The thread is the only indication of the man’s religion. The painting is aptly tilted a struggling smile.

Another painting at the entrance of the exhibition is a 30ft artwork by Mamoon Ahmed, a Kashmiri Muslim. The painting is of a forest with bones and trees. It is referenced as the life and death.

Art promoter Mujtaba Rizvi and artist Veer Munshi came up with the novel idea to showcase the terrorized fa├žade of Kashmir in an exhibition showing the atrocities faced by both Muslims and Hindus. They are showcasing art pieces showing the life of Kashmir as Kashmiris know it.

Rizvi shared a particularly emotional tale of Avtar Krishan Raina, who had fled from his home in Kashmir with nothing during the 90s and settled in Madhya Pradesh where he works as a painter now.

Although he has no plans of shifting back to Kashmir, he returned to his hometown for the first time since he fled to attend the exhibition. He met an old friend Mohammed Ashraf after arriving in the state who showed him one of the paintings that Raina had painted in 1986. Ashraf told Raina that during the 2014 floods, he saved only this painting of his friend’s from his ravaged home. Raina was teary-eyed as he saw his own painting after 3 decades.

Rizvi hopes that the exhibition is able to bridge many such gaps and bring the Kashmiri community together.