April 2002 News

Kashmiri Pandits want a say in negotiations

7 April 2002
The Pioneer
K Balasubrahmanyam

New Delhi: The Kashmiri pandits or Saraswat Brahmins are frustrated over the treatment being meted out to them during the ongoing negotiations between the Union Government and the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) to resolve the vexed Kashmir problem. The Kashmiri pandits exiled from their home land - Kashmir Valley, 14 years back, question the rationale of the Union Government over reaching an agreement with the APHC without discussing their rehabilitation besides political and administrative support. All the six splinter groups working for the socio-political rights of the displaced Kashmiri pandits are unanimous in demanding the Union Government to involve them in the negotiations. ''The number of displaced Kashmiri pandits is more than the Muslim refugees in Bosnia. Neither the Jammu and Kashmir Government nor the Union Government is making any effort to rehabilitate them. It is unfortunate that they are not even ready to discuss the issue at all,'' representatives of the Kashmir pandits alleged. The ethnic cleansing carried out by mercenaries from Pakistan forced nearly 3.4 lakh Kashmiri pandits to leave their home land of 5,000 years forcing them to be refugees in other parts of the country, they added. The Government, in its eagerness to keep J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and other Muslim leadership happy, preferred to ignore the Kashmiri pandits'' problems, they argued. Instead of providing a political package and administrative support to the minority Kashmiri pandits in the Valley, to go back to their villages and settle there, the Governments were trying to give financial aid to silence their voices, they said. The Farooq Abdullah Government wanted to compensate the pandits for the lost property and keep them away from the Valley. the Abdullah Government appointed Divisional Commissioner M L Kaul to estimate the loss and agreed to pay for it, a plan to which the Centre also agreed. ''What is required by us is the political support, from both the State and Union Governments, to go back to our villages and an conducive atmosphere to live there,'' they said. The Kashmiri pandits apprehended that once again they would become cannon fodder if they to back to their villages on the assurance of Mr Abdullah, who promised jobs to the displaced if they return to the Valley. Looking at the credentials of Mr Abdullah, we cannot fall prey to his words. The entire world knows that he played an active role in forming the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) in London along with Amanullah Khan and Mohd Maqbul Bhatt, they reminded. Reeling under misconceived notions and international pressures, the Union Government was going on committing blunders by not involving the Kashmiri pandits in the peace talks, they said.


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