Of Plight, Rehabilitation And The Empire?

By Sanjay Tickoo

The views expressed are authors own, it does not necessarily reflect The Kashmir Walla’s editorial policy.

The plight of valley based Pandits Rehabilitation; political, economic & religious space in present scenario, has heightened. The State and the Centre Government’s ill intentions become clearer when the Prime Ministers package is not deemed to apply to Pandits who stayed back in the valley even at the peak of militancy. (We understand that the State and Central Establishments are taking revenge against us to stay back in the valley along with the Majority Community. Though Majority Community and Migrants problems are being raised by the leaders of both Communities but, alas, we the Valley based Kashmiri Pandits are being isolated by each and every political party at the State or at National level) We Pandits who stayed back in the Valley for the last two decades are visible proof that security is not the only concern & may not be the main issue. The Home Ministry’s assessment conducted during the Governors’ rule in the valley showed that 19865 souls of Kahmiri Pandit Community were living in the valley as late as 1996.  Yet, today that number is down to 2700 souls.

Data-Population (Pre 1989 unto 31.03.2008) / Migration

Sr. No.

Time Period

Kashmiri Pandit Population

In Kashmir Valley (families)

Migration (families)

%age

1

Till 01.01.1990

75,343

2

01.01.1990 – 31.08.1990

40,741

34,602

45.93

3

01.09.1990 – 31.03.1992

6,460

34,281

84.14

4

01.04.1992 – 31.03.1998

3,773

2,687

41.59

5

01.04.1998 – 31.03.2008

651

3,122

82.74

Total

74,692

99.14

 

So why did the 17000 souls leave after weathering the worst period of violence. This is all because of shrinking economic, social & political space for Pandits in the valley, who have become “token exhibits”.

One must remember that it is due to extra courage shown by the ‘left-over’ Kahmiri Pandits, that to date the Pandits from outside Kashmir are re-visiting to their native places in the valley. One should also remember that every Kashmiri Muslim is not a extremist; as they too have shown extra courage to come forward to help the Kashmiri Pandits who stayed back at their respective places, mohallas and villages in the valley from time to time.

And they even received the Migrant Kahmiri Pandits whole heartedly during last couple of years.

But silence from the Separatists and mainstream political parties is precarious as they never demanded the proper rehabilitation for Valley based Pandits (Non–Migrants) and not even consider this Minuscule Community as part of the larger political scenario. Instead, they pursue the migrants to come back in the valley.

The major reason why the Valley based Kashmiri Pandits have been ignored is that the rehabilitation schemes are run directly by the Central Government with least interference from the State Establishment. The stand of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir is very even from the whole community without bifurcating the status whether one be Migrant or Non-Migrant.

If one really wishes to make the rehabilitation process to be implemented on ground zero then the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits should be a priority within the J&K State Budget and one which will give the State Government ample time to make the process effect on the ground zero. No doubt, if the Centre Government wishes they can have a Supervisory Committee to just monitor the process and progress of the rehabilitation scheme but not the authority of interference.

SUGGESTIONS

1. A steering committee comprising of 5 to 7 members to be created to discuss all matters regarding rehabilitation Kashmiri pandits living in the valley.

2. The financial and economic benefit package must extend to Valley based Pandits who have received marginal /negligible assistance from the State Government and Central Government and the local civil society so far, it should be specified separately. The Pandit population in the Valley continues to steadily decline and reversing that trend should be one of the highest priorities.

3. Political rights of the Community, including representation in the State Cabinet, Legislative Assembly and the Indian Parliament must be guaranteed through changes in appropriate State and Union Laws.

4. Kashmiri Pandits must receive equal consideration as full – fledged constituents in the political dialogue that the central government plans to hold with various Kashmir entities.

5. The State Government must secure legislative approval of the Kahmiri Hindu shrines and religious places management and regulation bill 2008 without any further delay.

6. The Central Government must establish Truth and Justice Commission to examine what events led to the forced exodus of Pandits and how thousands of Valley Youths were allowed to cross the LOC in 1989-1990 and implement appropriate recommendations to prevent a similar calamity in the future.

We understand that this serious and important issue of extinction of Kashmiri Pandit Community must attract international attention and persuade the Indian government to resolve the Kashmir issue with meaningful dialogue and process.

Sanjay Tickoo is the President of Kashmiri Pandit Sangrash Samiti.

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