KARGIL, LADAKH: Perhaps no family in Kargil attracts as much attention as Deols for they remind us of what our country stands for, Unity In Diversity.
Being the only Hindu family among the 1.7 lakh population of Kargil district, young Rishi Deol and his father Ravinder Nath, are proud of the town that is close to the Line of Control.
Amid rising cases of targeted attacks on people from minority communities, Deols feel no fear while they run their wholesale business of Fast-Moving Commercial Goods (FMCG), like biscuits, tea etc, on the ground floor of their two-storeyed house in the heart of the main Kargil market.
Deols’ ancestors hailed from Punjab’s Hosiyarpur and they came here to do silk business. But the alluring nature of the Himalayas, coupled with business, means they never went back and decided to make Kargil their home. With the passage of time, and as the silk business lost its glory, some of the families shifted to Leh while some shifted back to Punjab. But Deols remained put.
“My great grandfather was in the business of silk and spices. During his time, people from Hoshiyarpur would go to China through Kargil for their business. They would often stay here for months. But after the India-China conflict, some of those people decided to stay over here, as there was a scope for good business here. This is how my family remained over here,” Rishi shared the family story with The New Indian.
Rishi lost his mother Madhu a few years ago due to illness while his two elder sisters now live in Delhi and Jammu, meaning he and his father were the only ones who remained.
“At the time of the Kargil war, we took shelter at the residence of my Muslim friend. We never felt here that we belong to a different religion or felt any problem with the majority,” Nath told The New Indian.
Rishi, 26, takes care of his father’s business after pursuing his graduation from Punjab University in Chandigarh.
“My childhood was amazing. I did everything that a child does with his friends. We would climb ‘pahars’ (hills), ice-skate and play cricket on the hills without any fear of being so near to the LoC,” Rishi recalled his childhood memories.
“During the war of Kargil, we stayed at my uncle’s house for six months. During this period our studies got badly impacted. Later, papa (Nath) sent us to Punjab to complete our studies,” he added.
Being the only family of the religion means, the Deols miss the high and hoopla associated with many Hindu festivals. But Rishi acknowledged that it is also the time they utilize to catch up with their relatives in Punjab. “During the time of festivals like Diwali and Holi, we would often go to our relatives in Punjab,” Rishi summed up.