6th December 1997
Two US law-makers have urged National Human Rights Commission Chairman Justice M N Venkatachaliah to declare the Kashmiri Pandit community as "internally displaced people".
This would force the Indian government to provide adequate humanitarian assistance to its members, currently living as refugees in Jammu and New Delhi.
Congressmen Frank Pallone and Sherrod Brown, in a joint letter, also wanted the Commission to "advise and assist" the government in creating conditions in the Kashmir valley for the Pandits's return.
Pallone and Brown, both of whom are active members of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, had met Prime Minister I K Gujral during his visit to the United Nations in September. They drew the prime minister's attention to the Kashmiri Pandits's plight.
The two congressmen said the Pandits were forced to leave the Kashmir valley in 1991 in the wake of violent acts of the terrorists, armed and trained by the enemies of India. Since then, they had been living in refugee camps.
"Many of these ill-equipped camps lack proper educational and job training facilities that would enable them to live decent and productive lives. Unfortunately, the tremendous suffering and inability to return home has led to the deterioration of their community," they added.
They said the members of the Pandit community settled in the US had expressed concern at the lack of Indian government's attention to their plight in the country.