NEW YORK: A group of Kashmiri Pandits in the US has welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks in Parliament that Kashmir's identity was buried when the exodus of the community began in 1990, saying this recognition is a step towards their rehabilitation and justice.
The Global Kashmiri Pandits Diaspora hailed Prime Minister Modi for his "historic statement" where he spoke about the pain of the Kashmiri Pandits who had to leave the valley due to militancy.
Describing Jammu and Kashmir as the crown jewel of India, Modi, while replying to a debate on Motion of Thanks to the President's Address in Lok Sabha on February 6, said that on the dark night of January 19, 1990, Kashmir's identity had been buried.
The diaspora group said that January 19 is marked by the Kashmiri Pandits worldwide as the 'exodus day' when the entire population of the community was forced to flee, almost overnight, their homeland of generations following a "targeted campaign of murders, rapes, destruction of properties and ethnic extermination".
"Recognition of the exodus day in the Indian Parliament is seen by the community as a step towards restoration of justice and rehabilitation that has been the community's demand for over three decades now," the group said in a statement.
Modi had also said that no one can side with the statements of three detained chief ministers of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir who had said that abrogation of provisions of Article 370 will separate Kashmir from India.
The prime minister said statements made by former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah on the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 are not acceptable. "Who made Kashmir only about land grabbing? Who made Kashmir's identity only about bombs and guns? Can anyone forget that dark night of January? In reality, Kashmiri identity is closely linked with harmony," Modi had said in the Lok Sabha.
The diaspora organisation said that there is "overriding evidence that over the last 30 years the property rights of lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits have been systematically eroded, leading to a genocide and loss to the tune of 35 billion dollars.
Land, houses, temples and shrines belonging to the minority Kashmiri Pandit (Hindu) community have been illegally taken over". The group's members had met Prime Minister Modi in Houston in September last year.