August 2003 News

Kashmiri Pandit groups reject Hizb offer on return to Kashmir

12 August 2003
The Hindustan Times
Press Trust of India

New Delhi: Rejecting outright the reported suggestion of Hizbul Mujahideen for their return, Kashmiri Pandit groups on Tuesday insisted that the situation in the valley was not yet conducive as the terrorists continued to target the minority community.'We cannot return to the valley in a situation where minorities continue to be targeted. The recent strike on Vaishno Devi pilgrims in Katra is a clear example,' Panun Kashmir general secretary Ramesh Manvati said in New Delhi.'We will return to the valley as and when we feel that atmosphere is conducive,' he said. The community did not 'bank upon suggestions by any individual terrorist or organisation' in this regard, he added.Kashmiri Samiti president Sunil Shakdher termed Hizb's offer as an attempt to 'befool the international community'.'The terrorist threat will continue to loom large over Pandits till Pakistan's abetment of terrorism and infiltration continues. In such a situation, the return of the community members would make them cannon-fodder,' he said.Reiterating Panun Kashmir's demand for creation of a separate homeland for the community in the valley, Manvati said that it is essential for creating an atmosphere of equal and just political space.He also dismissed as baseless the claim by Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin that Pandits had left the valley in 1989 at the behest of the then Governor Jagmohan.'In fact, it was the threats and killings by terrorist groups that led to the exodus,' the Panun Kashmir leader maintained.Shakdher said that conducive atmosphere for return could be created in the valley only after infiltration stopped and terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan was dismantled.


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