February 2003 News

Kashmir 'safe Units' To Help Migrant Return

25 February 2003
The Asian Age

New Delhi: The Jammu and Kashmir government has identified 166 houses forming 15 clusters in Srinagar and Badgam districts in the state as 'safe units' for the return of displaced Kashmiri owners. These houses have been vacated by the families following the spurt in terrorist activities in the state over the years. The minister of state for home affairs, Mr Harin Pathak, in his written reply to a question, told the Lok Sabha that the list of these clusters was published in newspapers and steps were taken to identify the families and find their willingness to return to their homes. About 50 families, who were registered with the relief organisation in Jammu, were contacted personally to take their consent for return to the Valley on the basis of the package announced by the government, Mr Pathak said. He further said that interaction meetings with some of these families were also held but as reported by the state government, only two families (not belonging to the particular area) had agreed to return so far. Quoting available reports, he, however, said no Kashmiri migrant family has returned to their home so far. In order to enable safe and honourable return of migrants to their native valley, the then state government of the Jammu and Kashmir finalised an 'action plan' involving a total amount of Rs 2,589.73 crores. The action plan is to be implemented in phases, which envisages return and rehabilitation of migrant families in areas where clusters of migrant houses are available in villages-mohallas in the Kashmir Valley districts with sizeable Kashmiri Pandit population and where security is already being provided, he added. Mr Pathak said that the new state government had indicated that it had identified the shrines in Mattan and Kheer Bhavani as places where the Kashmiri migrants, displaced from these places, could be settled temporarily by developing two model clusters containing temporary shelters till the time their existing residential houses can be repaired. In response to yet another question in the Lok Sabha with regard to Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Pathak informed the House that the terrorist threat had led to some fear in the area and a section of female population had temporarily started wearing 'burqa' in the state. The terrorist outfits had also given ultimatum to Muslim women working with the state police to quit the jobs. However, no woman in Jammu and Kashmir has quit the state police force due to the threat by terrorist outfits, he added.


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