March 2004 News

We're Being Neglected By All Parties: Kashmiri Pandits

28 March 2004
The Pioneer

New Delhi: Not being a potential votebank, migrant kashmiri pandits feel that they are being neglected by all political parties in the forthcoming elections. Talking of the consolidation of Muslim votebank politics, Vijay Tikoo, secretary of Panun Kashmir, an organisation which represents the Kashmiri pandits, said: 'During the elections, the Kashmiri community is generally used as a card for political propaganda. But it is unfortunate that in course of his Bharat Uday Yatra, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani has not uttered a word about the rehabilitation of the Kashmiri pandits.' The 'India Shining' campaign has failed to bolster their spirits. 'Our future remains bleak. While the India Shining chant has gained momentum, our situation hasn't improved since the time we migrated. We were treated as an abandon community by the last Government.' Their major grievance is that no concrete steps have been taken to rehabilitate the pandits in the last 15 years. The Government has done little in terms of confidence building measures, they said. 'We are told to go back but the Government hasn't provided us with adequate security back-up. Though 15,000 employees have retired in the last 15 years, none of the posts have been filled by the Kashmiri youth,' he said. The community remains dissatisfied with the efforts by the National Minority Commission to rehabilitate them. 'Under pressure from the militant outfits, the proposal to send the pandits got shelved and only a group of Muslims returned home in November 2003,' he said. Opposing the Permanent Resident (Disqualification) Bill 2004, the Panun Kashmir does not accredit the Congress with having their best interest at heart. 'The Bill which rescinds the permanent resident status of women from Jammu and Kashmir who marry outside the state was unanimously passed by the Lower House of Kashmir's Assembly. But the Congress intervened at a much later stage,' said Mr Tikoo. Politics within Jammu and Kashmir has an exclusionist agenda. 'The Bill was a divisive political manouever by the Mufti Government to strengthen separatist movement in the state. Corruption is rampant in the state machinery. Similarly, no party leader wants to annoy Muslim Ladakhis,' he said. The Kashmiri pandits are most perturbed about their diminishing numbers in the Valley and extinction of their community. 'The total failure of the Government is evident just by looking at the unhygienic conditions of camps. The trend of migration is accelerating due to unemployment,' Mr Tikoo said.


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