Panun Kashmir seeks separate homeland
18 July 2001
The Times of India
The Times of India News Service
NEW DELHI: Kashmiri Pandits have demanded initiation of measures for the creation of a separate homeland for them in Kashmir as ''the first step towards integrating the state into the national mainstream and consolidating the pro-India forces'' there. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday after a ''hurriedly'' convened meeting of Panun Kashmir and Panun Kashmir (M) in wake of the Agra summit, they urged the Union government to ''reiterate its firmness by immediately undertaking the geopolitical reorganisation of J&K irrespective of Pakistan''s stand'' on the issue. Demanding the withdrawal of the pre-summit confidence- building measures announced by India, they also asked the government to enhance the security of Kashmiri refugee camps in Jammu and elsewhere. ''Musharraf''s refusal to admit the existence of cross- border terrorism should serve as an eye-opener for the Indian government, which should go ahead and declare Pakistan a terrorist country,'' they said. Agnishekhar of Panun Kashmir said, ''Instead of behaving like a soft state, we should have been more assertive during the summit... the government failed to properly tackle the general in civilian uniform.'' Added Ashok Pandit, ''Prime Minister Vajpayee should come out in public about what actually transpired at the summit and what his further moves will be...Pandits, refugees in their own country, should be involved in all talks on Kashmir.'' Ashwani Chrungoo, president of Panun Kashmir (M), in turn, criticised the Hurriyat Conference for projecting itself as the representative of Kashmiris. ''The Hurriyat is just a political cover for many terrorist and anti-national activities...there has been ethnic cleansing of Pandits from Kashmir,'' he said. Agnishekar said Pandits considered Pakistan a ''terrorist and rogue country''. ''The ultimate resolution of the Kashmir problem will have to include Kashmiri Pandits,'' he said.