Forum Urges Hillary To Meet Kashmiri Pandits

18 July 2009
The Hindu

Washington DC: A US-based body of Kashmiri Pandits has appealed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to meet the community members during the New Delhi-leg of her India visit, saying that their plight 'remains unchanged' after being forced to flee the valley two decades back. Hailing Clinton's maiden trip to India as Secretary of State, the Indo-American Kashmir Forum (IAKF) requested her to meet a delegation of the Kashmiri Pandits and give them hope. 'If things do not change in Kashmir, Kashmiri Pandit culture will surely disappear, and forces of intolerance...and violence will prevail. Given the neighborhood around Kashmir, one can only speculate what implications such a dire situation would have on our own country,' the Forum said. In a statement, it said 'the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced to flee from Kashmir during the armed insurgency two decades back, remains unchanged.' They have been referred to as 'refugees in their own country' as nearly 95 per cent of the native population was displaced, it said. The forum alleged that there has been 'no concerted effort' by the Central Government to develop a specific policy on return of Kashmiri Pandits or engage them in 'any serious dialogue' to ensure their timely return to the homeland. 'Even sadder is the plight of the few thousand Pandits who remained in the valley' as 'they are being treated as second class citizens without adequate jobs, living quarters or security, it claimed.