Sandeep and Shamim set example of Hindu-Muslim co-existence in Kashmir
A Kashmiri Muslim and a Kashmiri Pundit came together to sow a seed that would give hope to thousands of people in the Valley
Following ethnical cleansing that forced Kashmiri Pandits to flee from their homeland, hotelier Sandeep Chattoo and his friend Shamim Mehraj have set an example about how Hindu-Muslim co-existence is still possible in the Kashmir Valley. A Kashmiri Muslim and a Kashmiri Pundit came together to sow a seed that would give hope and joy to thousands of people in the valley. Chatto, a hotelier by profession, is also the co-owner of Real Kashmir Football Club — a club that has broken all kinds of stereotypes since it was founded three years back. “This is perhaps the rarest permutation combinations of ownership with a Muslim and a Pandit at the helm,” he says with a hint of pride. For the nescient, Chattoo, a Pundit, founded a football club in the valley, with his Muslim friend Shamim Mehraj a few years back. “As you must have read, after the 2014 floods, Shamim and I just thought of doing something for the young kids who we could see sitting on streets, smoking, doing nothing. We gave footballs to these kids and after a week, we saw hundreds of these small kids playing on small grounds which confirmed that there was an interest in football in them,” recalls Chattoo.