June 2005 News

Majority consent needed for return, say Kashmiri Pandits

30 June 2005
The Hindu

Srinagar: Representatives of Kashmiri Pandits have made it clear that they cannot return without the consent of majority Muslim community and the selected security zones being set up by the government may prove dangerous for them. A 37-member coordination committee of migrant Pandits, which is on a fact-finding mission to the Kashmir Valley, on Thursday visited Budgam and inspected a colony at Sheikhpora being constructed for them. They also interacted with the locals and exchanged views on their possible return. Overwhelmed by the traditional welcome given by the majority community in Anantnag, Pulwama, and Budgam districts, the Pandit leaders said that there was still a ray of hope for Kashmiriyat. They are planning to visit the rest of three districts of Kupwara, Baramulla and Srinagar in the next few days. 'No guarantees' A team of senior officials headed by Additional Deputy Commissioner Budgam Abdul Hamid accompanied the committee members and explained to them the salient features of the proposed structures which are also coming up at Mattan in Anantnag district and Tulmul in Srinagar. During the interaction with the majority community members, the Pandits were told that Muslims had no objection to their return but there could be no guarantees. 'You have to bear with the untoward incidents of which the majority community has been a victim for the last 15 years' they were told by residents in Pulwama. 'We welcome you as we feel we are incomplete without your being part of us,' said the people representing different walks of life. They assured the Pandits of all support but said that they too had certain compulsions which needed to be taken consideration. Some political leaders, however, urged the delegation to work for the speedy return of the migrants. Veerji Biloo, head of the delegation, expressed resentment over the Government's inability to formulate a plan for the Pandits. The Centre in 1989 came out with concrete efforts to ensure the 'survival of Kashmiri Pandits' in Jammu after migration. The majority community had to be taken into confidence for their return and 'our decision will be respected by others at Jammu in letter and in spirit as the committee has got a mandate from 60 per cent Pandits.' Other members of the delegation demanded that before rehabilitating the Pandits, the Government should come out with concrete employment policy for them. The matter was being raised with State Government shortly after the delegation completes its visit, said Roshan Lal, a member. Some migrants accompanying the delegation said they would surrender the relief and refuse security if settled in their ancestral areas. However, some expressed concern over the fact that many Pandits have sold out their property. Revenue Minister Hakim Mohammad Yasin said they (delegation members) were satisfied with the arrangements made by the Government. 'We are also constructing similar structures in Baramulla and Kupwara, Mr. Hakim told The Hindu . He said he would meet the delegation at the end of their visit and discuss the modalities for their return in a phased manner.


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