NEW DELHI: There comes a time when it is the hour of the dispossessed. It has now dawned in the valleys and mountains of Jammu and Kashmir.
The first efforts of the NDA government were focused on returning the persecuted Kashmiri Pandits to their homes and homeland from where they were brutally expelled through rapine and pogroms. Next, help appeared on the horizon for the disenfranchised Hindu and Sikh refugees who had crossed over to Kashmir from Pakistan in 1947, whose rights have been taken up by the BJP during its election campaign, both for Parliament and the State. Now, the Narendra Modi government is focusing on Hindu OBCs and tribals from the hilly areas of Jammu, and making efforts to reinstate and return them to their roots, which they abandoned when both Kashmiri and Pakistan-trained terrorists trained their guns on them.
Over 5,000 families have migrated from Doda, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Ramban, Poonch and Rajouri, fearing militants operating from isolated hideouts situated in the high mountain ranges. The cruel irony is that the relief package and schemes for resettlement of Jammu migrants are negligible when compared to the packages offered to displaced Pandits. During the Congress-led UPA rule, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had rejected a proposal to correct this variance, saying the “position in respect of the migrants from the Jammu region is qualitatively different from that of the migrants from the valley”. After years of demand against the step-motherly treatment from successive regimes, the Modi government has taken up the cause of Jammu migrants — partly also to consolidate its saffron party base in the State ruled by the BJP-PDP coalition headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
From late last year up to this month, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has been conducting several discussions on the plight of the Jammu & Kashmir migrants, especially focusing on their return and rehabilitation. Home ministry officials informed him that though they are entitled to similar aid given to Pandits who fled terrorism, the ubiquitous red tape has denied the Jammu migrant families their dues. The minister has asked officials to speedily work out a proposal to correct the mistakes made in the past. A MHA note sent to the PMO in the first week of July said the ministry has formulated a plan and is giving final touches to Cabinet note proposing a financial package to Jammu migrants on the pattern of a similar package offered to Kashmiri migrants.