SRI NAGAR: While BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav and J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik advocate separate colonies for migrant Kashmiri Pandits in Valley, separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has opposed the move. “We wholeheartedly and sincerely want the Pandits to return to Kashmir. We will always welcome their homecoming and support every move which helps their return. Let them come back, live as they previously used to, along with their Muslim brothers,” Geelani said.
The Pandits migrated en masse from Valley after the eruption of militancy in the State in 1989 and settled in Jammu and other parts of the country. On Governor Malik’s statement that separate settlement for Pandits in Valley is a compulsion and not a choice, Geelani said, “If decisions are sub-servant to compulsions, then there is every possibility of fading away realities under the veil.
The PDP leader and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said, “It’s a sentiment shared by Kashmiri Muslims, who want their Pandit brethren to come back home. The vacuum created by their exodus can’t be filled unless they return with honour and dignity.”Meanwhile, Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) refugees living in the State have demanded defreezing of at least eight out of 24 Assembly seats reserved for PoK residents.
Rajiv Chuni, Chairman of SOS International, an organisation of PoK refugees, told this newspaper that at present 13 lakh of them are living in the State. Complaining of the lack of representation in the Assembly, Rajiv said, “If one third of the population of PoK has migrated to this side of J&K and settled here, they should be given the option to choose their own representative to the State Assembly,” said Rajiv.
The representatives of PoK refugees met EC on November 24, 2018, to seek defreezing of at least 8 seats reserved for PoK residents. Rajiv received a letter from the MHA saying that the issue is being dealt with by the Ministry of External Affairs. “If PoK is our own land, then why has MHA sent our case to MEA?” added Rajiv.
‘Balkanisation of society’
Hameeda Nayeem chairperson of Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS),a civil society group opposed the move to settle Kashmiri Pandits in separate settlements said such colonies are aimed at engineering “Balkanisation of society” along communal lines to create islands and put them at war with each other.