Pandits a Divided Lot on J&K Return Issue - The New Indian Express

Pandits a Divided Lot on J&K Return Issue

Published: 14th December 2013 10:38 AM

Last Updated: 14th December 2013 10:38 AM

Notwithstanding the attractive sops being offered by the Jammu and Kashmir Government, Kashmiri Pandits, who migrated from the Valley after militancy started in 1989, have not shown any interest in returning to their native place, owing to differences  among the community leaders.

According to the government, at least 38,000 families – including 34,202 Pandit, 2,168 Muslim and 1,749 Sikh families – had migrated from Kashmir to other parts of the country after the eruption of militancy in the state in 1989. “We want a homeland established for Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir. The Constitution should be made applicable there in letter and spirit. The homeland should be placed under the Central administration and given Union Territory status,” said Ashwani Charangoo, president of  Panun Kashmir, an organisation working for the migrant Kashmiri Pandits.

Charangoo said the sops, jobs and other incentives wouldn’t have any impact on migrant Kashmir Pandits. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a comprehensive package of `1,618.40 crore in April 2008 for the return and rehabilitation of the Pandits. The package included `7.5-lakh aid towards housing besides, transit accommodation, employment/continuation of cash relief. The Prime Minister’s package had also announced 6,000 jobs for Pandits willing to return.  The state government has so far provided 1,500 jobs to Pandit youths in Kashmir.

Charangoo, however, said the government was more interested in showcasing the Pandits’ return than in facilitating it. The Panun Kashmir leader said that to ensure their return, the government would have to provide jobs to all migrant Pandits, which he said wasn’t possible.

Sanjay Tickoo, chairman of Kashmir Pandit Sangarsh Samiti, said jobs could play an important role in wooing community members back to Kashmir. Also, he dismissed the “homeland” demand: “This will give further credence to the two-nation theory based on which Pakistan was created,” he said.

Tickoo said: “The government has to instil a sense of security and confidence among the migrant Pandits to ensure their return to and rehabilitation in the Valley.”He said the new generation of Muslims and Pandits have different political aspirations. “During the Khirbhavani festival, hundreds of Pandits visit Kashmir and stay with their former neighbours who are Muslims. Then why are they afraid of returning to Kashmir?” he said.

Shadi Lal Pandita of the Jagti Tenement Committee said the government should set up satellite townships for migrant Pandits at three places in the Valley.

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