Spotlight on displaced Kashmiri Pandits
24 April 2006
New Delhi: A State Government-commissioned report on 'The Impact of Migration on the Socio-Economic Conditions of Kashmiri Displaced People' has recommended re-examination of the issue of granting 'some kind' of status to the Kashmiri Pandits as internally displaced persons. The Pandits are neither recognised as minorities nor internally displaced persons (IDP) by the Government and, therefore, no protection is available to them. While some amount of protection is given to them under the fundamental rights of the Constitution, this has neither prevented their exodus nor protected their minority rights sufficiently at the place of their habitual residence, the J&K Centre for Minorities Studies has said in its report. The Centre, chaired by retired bureaucrat M.L.Kaul, has suggested that pending a solution of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits' problem at the political level, it might be a good idea if the National Commission for Minorities and the State Government could evolve a scheme of granting appropriate protection to the community. The National Commission for Minorities had in 1998 recommended minority status for Hindus in five States, including Jammu and Kashmir. In view of conflicting numbers on the displaced Kashmiri Pandits, the report suggests a special census and that they should be consulted on the affairs of the State and specifically on all matters that affect them directly, and visible and effective guarantees provided to all including the other minorities. 'Till such time that it does not happen, one member of the Legislative Assembly and one member of the Legislative Council of the State must be invariably nominated from the Pandit community.' Pointing out that there is a need to evolve a policy for permanent rehabilitation in the long term for all, including those unwilling to go back, the report says that Pandits should not return in isolated pockets.