June 2005 News

In Valley, houses wait for return of Pandits

12 June 2005
The Indian Express
Mir Ehsan

Mattan: With more than two dozen migrant Hindu Pandit families set to return to this remote township for a festival at the historic Martand temple, questions remain on how memorable this homecoming would be. The state government, with Central assistance, has constructed some two-dozen concrete flats in Mattan town on Anantnag- Pahalgam road, where 500 Hindu families used to live earlier. All but 20 Hindu families migrated soon after the insurgency started in Kashmir. President of the Martand temple trust, Ashok Kumar Sidha, who returned recently after seven years of migration, says the comeback of migrant Hindus is fraught with problems. ‘‘Tell me, are 18 flats sufficient for 500 Hindu families?’’ he says. Flanked by migrant families on the temple lawns, Sidha argues the families cannot be relocated without considering other factors. ‘‘Before shifting in these quarters, we have to think on many aspects. At least, we have to observe whether we can live here or not.’’ Sidha, who is presently care-taker of the centuries-old Martand temple, says the Hindus can never return unless government fulfills some promises. ‘‘For our return, we have already submitted a proposal to the government. Our return will only be possible if government concedes to our demands,’’ he says. Last week, CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed visited the township and held discussions with the migrant families and insisted they settle in the quarters. ‘‘Many among us are willing to return but first, the government should chalk out a plan how we can sustain in these flats after years of migration,’’ says Avtar Krishan Mosa, a migrant. ‘‘Unless an honorarium is fixed and jobs are provided, nobody will move to these flats.’’ Close to Mattan police station, masons and labourers are working overtime to give finishing touches to the quarters for migrants. ‘Families can move any time,’’ says Ghulam Nabi, a local mason. ‘‘We are waiting for the return of our neighbours,’’ he says. ‘‘Some 20 families never migrated and they live peacefully here. Those who migrated can return and share our joy, happiness and grief.’’

 

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