KPs Hold Massive Protest At Jantar Mantar, Reject Return Formula To Clusters

3 May 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Avtar Bhat

Jammu: Kashmiri Pandits held a massive demonstration at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, today demanding that both State and Central governments should take the community into confidence before formulation of any return formula for rehabilitation of over seven lakh displaced Pandits in Valley. Thousands of Pandits drawn from different parts of NCR, Delhi and other parts of country assembled at Jantar Mantar in the Union Capital as a show of strength to make it clear to both State and Central governments that the Pandits are not cannon fodder on whose return and rehabilitation decision can be taken without taking the aspirations of the community into consideration. The protestors with placards and banners in their hands, wearing black T shirts and bands were raising slogans against Pakistan, Hurriyat and separatists holding them responsible for genocide of the community. They made it clear that Kashmir belongs to Pandits and they will not return on the agenda set by separatists or Pakistan but on their own terms and conditions. 'The return to Valley is our birth right as Kashmir belongs to us and our roots are linked to Valley over 5000 year old and no power on earth can snatch our right to return to our motherland', said Manoj Bhan, a JKVM activist and one of the organizers of the rally. Terming it a historic rally after the displacement in which displaced Pandits from every part of the country participated, he said Pandits will not allow any one to dictate terms to them on return. The protestors categorically rejected the Central Government's latest proposal to resettle them in Kashmir in different clusters and in mixed localities. Thousands of KPs - men, women and children who assembled at Jantar Mantar put across their message to the government loud and clear that they will return to Kashmir but not on terms dictated by separatists who drove them out from their homes and hearths, said Raj Nehru another organizer. 'We are the State Subjects of J&K and free citizens of India and we will decide when, where and how we will return', he added. He said at the onset of the armed Islamist insurgency in 1989-90, Kashmiri Pandits were targeted in hundreds. Men were murdered en masse and hundreds of women were brutally raped. 'In a clear attempt to ethnically cleanse an entire community, we were forced to flee from our homes. Most of our properties were either destroyed or occupied, and usurped. Over 10,000 KP homes and 400 temples were destroyed by terrorists and Jihadis who relentlessly targeted the community,' Nehru added. 'Even after their mass exodus in 1990, Pandits became targets of orchestrated massacres. That is why it is important today that we feel secure when we return to the Valley and our views are taken into cognizance' said Parikshit Kaul senior organiser. The protestors demanded that the J&K Government should reopen the prosecution cases against all those involved in the killing of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley following the outbreak of militancy in 1989-90. They particularly demanded to reopen the cases against JKLF terrorist Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate as a confidence building measure. They said Bitta Karate be put on trial immediately for making a confession that he had killed more than 20 Kashmiri Pandits. 'It is unfortunate that no FIRs have been filed in over 80% of the cases KPs killed by terrorists. Even to this day, the community is awaiting justice because not even a single person has been punished for the killings of KPs,' they added. Responding to Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesperson's statement that India is changing the demography of Kashmir, Media Coordinator of the demonstration pointed out that it is Pakistan that has changed the demography in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir by settling Punjabis, Pathans and Pushtun Tribals there. In Kashmir, the separatists supported by Pakistan have altered the demography by cleansing the entire Hindu population of Kashmir, he added. Col. (retd) T N Tikoo, vice president AIKS, said Pandits are united on their demands and they will fight till last breath for their rights. The major KP organisations whose activists participated in the protest rally were Jammu Kashmir Vichar Manch, (JKVM), All India Kashmiri Samaj, (AIKS), Panun Kashmir, (PK), Roots in Kashmir (RIK), All Parities Migrant Coordination Committee (APMCC) and activists of various other organizations from Bangalore, Jaipur, Bhopal, Mumbai, Chandigarh etc. PTI adds from New Dehli that disapproving of comments made earlier by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed that only 10 to 15 per cent Kashmiri Pandits will choose to return to the Valley as most are well placed in various parts of the country, Manoj Bhan said that every member of the community wants to return to their homeland. CBFC Board Member Ashoke Pandit, who had flown in from Mumbai to take part in the protest, said the Centre believing the words of Sayeed was 'the biggest problem'. 'When I see all the terrorists on the streets of Kashmir, then what is the difference between the previous and this Central Government. The biggest problem is that the Central Government is trusting the Chief Minister Who says he is thankful to Pakistan after peaceful elections,' Pandit said. Pandit also demanded that Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Yasin Malik and other separatist leaders be arrested. Another protester, Pankaj Dhar, said they want to go to their homeland but on their terms and authorities must ensure social and political security and economical empowerment of those who return. Rashneek Kher of the Roots in Kashmir criticised the plan to build separate townships for Pandits over an area of 50 acres saying it won't suffice. 'We refused to stay in clusters or ghettos spread over 50 acres. Whenever the Government will call us, we will raise this issue before them,' Kher said.