Farooq for KPs' return, rehabilitation

26 March 2008
The Daily Excelsior
Avtar Bhat

JAMMU: National Conference (NC) will keep the honorable return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits to Valley as well as the recruitment of community youth in Party’s election manifesto. This was stated by the NC patron and former Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah while addressing a meeting of Kashmiri Pandits at Udaywala, Bohri this afternoon. The meeting was organised by Migrant Welfare Committee , Jammu and displaced Pandits from various camps and non camps participated in it. Dr Abdullah said after return to power, the NC Government will also introduce the Kashmiri Hindu Shrines and Religious Places Bill in State Assembly on priority basis for the protection of temples and religious places of Pandits in Valley. He made an appeal to the Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad to call a special session of the State Legislature for passage of the Bill or bring an ordinance in this regard till its passage. Maintaining that Kashmir was incomplete without Pandits, he said his Party is committed to dignified return of the displaced Pandits to their homes and hearths in Valley who faced many hardships during 18 years of turmoil. To mitigate their sufferings, NC has authorized the former Chief Secretary, Vijay Bakaya to formulate the Party manifesto in this regard, he added. 'The Party is committed to return of the displaced people and after coming to power in 1996 it took some steps in this regard. Some members of displaced community were also ready to return to their birth place but unfortunately the entire plan failed after the terrorists attacked at Wandhhama in Ganderbal district and Sangrampura in Budgam district', he added. These killings were aimed at ethnic cleansing and to convert the Kashmir into Pakistan but by the grace of God all the designs of subversives and their mentors failed, he said. Dr Abdullah who also sought enhancement of cash relief for migrants, said as a result of mass migration some Pandits sold their land and houses in distress and the Government has now to find a way out for their return. So Mr Bakaya has been asked to give suggestions how this problem can be solved as our Party wants to find a way out to ensure the return of those families also, he added. The NC patron said this way his Party wants to compensate the Pandit community members for the miseries suffered by them over the years. The another step which can be taken by the Party for the betterment and upliftment of the community will be employment to the displaced youth, he added. Making it clear that providing jobs to migrants at Jammu will not be possible, he said the only alternative for the recruitment of KP youth will be the Kashmir valley after their return. But first a conducive situation has to be created for the same, he added. Dr Abdullah said earlier his Government sought applications for the recruitment of the Kashmiri Pandits in State but the then Government at Centre did not accept the proposal as they were not sincere. Asking the members of displaced community to maintain unity in their rank and file , he urged them to follow those leaders who are ready to sacrifice for them and not back those who are working for their vested interests. He said though during NC rule the Distress Sale of Migrants Property Act for the protection of migrants left over properties in Valley was framed but some touts from the minority community inconvenience with touts from majority community violated the same by selling the property through attorneys. He said likewise the touts from both the communities have also looted the property of religious places and now the situation is that even the poojaris have deserted them. To protect these places of worship NC brought a Bill in the State Assembly and Leader of Opposition, Abdul Rahim Rather introduced it in the House but the ruling alliance did not support its passage saying the Government will bring its own Bill. He said the NC wanted that a Board on the pattern of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board and Shri Amarnath Shrine Board be constituted for the religious places of KPs in Valley. He also demanded that the people with integrity from Jammu be given representation in Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board and likewise the Kashmiri Pandits with integrity be also be made members of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. While allaying the fears of KPs, he said NC had never favoured secessionism and his Party has not demanded anything outside the ambit of Indian Constitution. Though one former Prime Minister had promised any thing short of Azadi but later the Centre rejected the autonomy resolution of NC, he added. Earlier speaking NC leader and former Chief Secretary , Vijay Bakaya said the NC can only provide future guarantee to the people of J&K and solve the problems of Kashmiri Pandits. The KPs displacement is a human tragedy and NC realizes it fully, he added. S L Koul general secretary, Migrant Welfare Committee, its chairman Rajinder Kilam, president, T K Koul, Avtar K Bhat, Jigan Goja, Nana Ji, Roshan Lal Raina, Yogi Bal Ji, Pinto Ji and B L Bhat Ex MLC highlighted the problems of displaced Pandits and demanded employment for the displaced youth with honorable and dignified return of community to their homes and hearths in Valley. The other NC leaders who were present included provincial president Ajay Sadhotra, Deputy Mayor, Dharam Vir Singh Jamwal, Ex MLC Brij Mohan Sharma, Party vice president, Rattan Lal Gupta and ex MLA and district president NC Sat Paul Lakhotra. Earlier, Dr Abdullah also attended a function organised by Jumbo Times on the completion of its one year of publication.