Meet Focuses On Issues Of J&K Pandits
2 September 2003
The Asian Age
New Delhi: In some track two movement on Kashmir, minister of state for home I.D. Swami on Tuesday attended a high-level meeting with a sprinkling of separatist leaders, mainstream Kashmiri politicians and displaced Kashmiri pandits. The two-day conference, organised by a low-key non-governmental organisation, was about the rehabilitation of Kashmiri pandits who fled the Valley - and not specifically about a possible solution to the militancy in the state. And surprisingly the meeting was attended by just one Hurriyat Conference leader and a Union minister. Mr Shabbir Shah of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party and Sajjad Lone, a moderate voice in separatist Hurriyat Conference, were among the separatists in the conference. Mr Omar Abdullah of the National Conference and Ms Mehbooba Mufti of the ruling Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party represented the 'mainstream' parties from that state. Mr Panun Kashmir took up the demands of Hindus from Kashmir. The Hurriyat Conference has so far not shown any interest in talking to Centre's interlocutor on Kashmir N.N. Vohra, and apparently wants a formal invitation for political-level talks with the Centre. The conference organised by Observers Research Foundation, doesn't come anywhere near meeting that condition - it is not even clear if Mr Lone is officially representing the Hurriyat. The meeting came out with a list of recommendations to help the displaced Kashmiri pandits. These included increasing their maintenance allowance for refugees, helping rebuilt their tenements into more permanent structures, scholarships and employment opportunities.