Security Conducive For Return Of Migrant KPs

Security Conducive For Return Of Migrant KPs

7 December 2012
Rising Kashmir
Wasim Khalid

Srinagar: The migrant Kashmiri Pandits, who have returned to Valley and are engaged in various activities here, are of the opinion that security condition in Kashmir is conducive for return of their community members, who migrated to other parts of India after eruption of militancy in 1989. “The security risk in Kashmir is talk of the past. I was appointed in the Education department some four years back. I never felt any uneasiness here. Nobody touched or harassed me during 2010 unrest. The local Muslims neighbors and friends would visit me and enquire about me and other community members well being,” said Sachin Pandit, who is residing in a temporary camp for internally displaced Pandit community members at Hall village in South Kashmir’s Shopian area. He said it was actually non implementation of Prime Minister’s relief and rehabilitation packages, which has confined the Pandit community to Jammu. “Scores of Pandit families are living at Haal camp. But nobody among them has permanently shifted to Kashmir. We are two brothers and both of us were appointed in government departments. Our families visit us in summers and return to Jammu in winters. We have houses in Jammu and so far we don’t think we could permanently return to Valley. How can we leave the property in Jammu and return to Valley,” Sachin said. He said they were receiving less help from J&K government in implementing PM’s economic package for rehabilitation of Pandit community. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced a special package of Rs 1618.40 crores for Kashmir Pandits in 2008 to facilitate their return to Kashmir. Under the scheme, 25000 government jobs have to be created for KPs in Kashmir to facilitate their return to Valley. The government informed Legislative Assembly during summer session that appointment orders were issued to 2148 Pandit candidates and only 1441 have joined services in Valley. Kalpana Tickoo, a Pandit and a social activist, who has returned to Kashmir in 2010, said she never felt insecure in the valley. “On the contrary, the affection, love and sense of belonging which I found here, was something which I had missed for many years. It has been three years since I returned and from that day, I felt like I am in home. I have formed very close bonds with friends and thankfully, we share beautiful relations where we can talk our minds without apprehension of being judged,” she said. She said many internally displaced KPs have been visiting the Valley lately and that is a positive sign. “The primary issue is to let go off the bitterness and bad memories. In my opinion, security is not the issue”. Asked if situation was conductive then what stops the full fledged return of migrant Pandits to Kashmir, Tickoo said, “Majority of them have consolidated themselves outside. I do not see possibility of full-fledged return of Pandits, who are well settled now.” She said the thrust should be on resettling those Pandit families, who are still living in camps. “In the past 22 years, the community members have put in efforts to build everything from scratch and spent time in consolidating it. Now it is unlikely that they would want to put it at stake and return to the place, which is still not fully stable,” she said. Maintaining that there exists mistrust between some sections of Pandit and Muslim communities, Tickoo said, “Although it is decreasing gradually but a certain percentage of mistrust does exist. It has more to do with a clash of political ideologies than individual mistrust”. The working president of ruling National Conference minority cell Anil Dhar, who spends most of his time in Kashmir, said the difficulties exist as far as return of migrants Pandit is concerned. “It is a difficult process and would take time,” he said. He said under distress, the community had sold their property in Valley. “After working hard, some of them settled in Jammu, Delhi, Mumbai and other states of India. It is extremely difficult to uproot them from there now”. Dhar said the process of KPs return would be a gradual process. “You can’t expect the rehabilitation process to be rapid as migration of community from the Valley. We want to return in dignified manner”. He said the majority community and other elements including moderate separatists have to play an important role in return of KPs. “Around 2000 Pandit youth have returned to Kashmir under job plan and are putting up in newly constructed camps. They have given affidavit to the government that they won’t ask for transfer to Jammu. It has paved the way for their return. We expect things will become favorable for the return of the community,” he said. He said the government has established several hutments for migrant community at Haal, Waiysuuo, Mattan, Budgam, Ganderbal and Baramulla in Kashmir. The government has announced several measures to ensure return of migrant Pandits to Valley. The government has recommended doubling monthly relief to the migrant KPs living outside the valley. It has also recommended enhancement of cash assistance to migrant families from present ceiling of Rs 5000 to Rs 10000 per month. According to government figures, about 1,42,424 internally displaced Kashmiri Pandits have been registered in Jammu and around 219 KPs were killed in last two decades.