Kashmir Peace Talks Will Involve Displaced Pandits Too: Advani
25 September 2000
The Daily Excelsior
B L Kak
New Delhi: The Union Home Minister, Mr LK Advani, does not favour the idea of avoiding consultations, both informal and formal, with the representatives of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits. Mr Advani is for the participation of representatives of different groups of Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir peace talks, if and when they start with the main opposition parties, including the militant outfits, of the Valley. This has become evident after Mr Advani''s interaction with a 10-member delegation of Panun Kashmir in New Delhi. Led by vice-president of Panun Kashmir''s Daughters of Vitasta wing, Prof. Neerja Tiku, the delegation included, among others, Mr Ramesh Manwati and Mr Rajinder Kaul. The broad-based Panun Kashmir is regarded as the principal organisation of the displaced community of Kashmiri Pandits. After his meeting with the Panun Kashmir representatives, Mr Advani was reported to have interacted with a team of officials of his Ministry. The Prime Minister''s Office (PMO), which has, in recent months, evinced greater interest in the J&K affairs, was informed about the demands highlighted by the Panun Kashmir delegation. Whatever the expectations and requirements of the PMO, the Union Home Ministry has reportedly conveyed to the Prime Minister that the people of Ladakh and of Jammu region as well as the displaced Kashmiri Pandit community will have to be consulted in the event of taking forward the dialogue process with various Kashmiri opposition leaders. Significantly, however, neither Mr LK Advani nor his Ministry are willing, in the given situation, to oblige Panun Kashmir by supporting the demand for a separate homeland for displaced Pandits within the Valley. And Mr Advani refused to be drawn into discussion when the Panun Kashmir delegation highlighted the necessity of declaring the uprooted Pandits as ''internally displaced persons''. Mr Advani''s anxiety was noticed in respect of one issue, namely, closure of camp colleges in Jammu by the J&K Government. And after he was given a memorandum in this regard, Mr Advani held out an assurance that he would take up the matter with the J&K administration. Mr Advani was told by the Panun Kashmir delegation that winding up of camp schools and camp colleges gave wrong signals to the displaced people that the Government was not at all serious for their rehabilitation in the Valley. Panun Kashmir''s woes also found a forceful expression in the course of a 2-hour session the organisation''s 4-member team had with a 6-member group of the European Union in the Indian capital. The Panun Kashmir''s team comprised Messrs Ramesh Manvati, Kamal Hak, Yuraj Raina and Neerja Tiku. According to Panun Kashmir''s spokesperson for the North Zone, Mr Ramesh Manvati, the European Union group was keen to learn about the true dimensions of Kashmir imbroglio. Mr Manvati told EXCELSIOR that the European Union group was candidly informed about the ''sinister design to completely Islamise the State of Jammu and Kashmir resulting in the forced escape of more than 3.5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits and other ethnic Hindu minorities from the Valley''. A memorandum, presented to the European Union group, apart from highlighting the plight of the displaced Pandits, reiterated the ''necessity'' of declaring the Pandits as internally displaced persons in conformity with UN Human Rights Commission resolution of February 2, 1995. Panun Kashmir''s memorandum, in fact, also highlighted the urgency of geo-political re-organisation of J&K State taking into account the urges and aspirations of people from Jammu and Ladakh. The memorandum called for measures to create a separate homeland for 7 lakh Kashmiri Pandits within the Valley, which, the document insisted, would help ''free flow of Indian Constitution without any restrictions besides helping in restoration of lost human rights to the displaced Pandits''.