Pandits' Return To Valley To Begin In October
21 August 2005
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: Notwithstanding terrorist threats, Jammu and Kashmir government is going ahead with plans to rehabilitate displaced Kashmiri pandits in their homeland as the first batch of migrants is all set to return here within two months. 'First batch of 350 families of pandits living in different camps at Jammu and Udhampur is returning to Kashmir in October,' state Revenue and Rehabilitation minister Hakim Mohammad Yaseen said. Originally scheduled in June, the delay was due to bad weather. 'Rains hampered the construction work for sometime but now the works is in full swing and we are confident that it will be completed within two months,' Yaseen said. Immediately after that we are planning to rehabilitate the first batch of the migrants here, the minister said. The minister said government has received 1600 applications from migrant families who want to return to the valley. The 350 families would be rehabilitated in the first phase, he added. Two-room sets would be provided to a family at Sheikhpora in Budgam and Mattan in Anantnag while one-room accommodation would be available at Kherbhawani in Srinagar, he said. After their rehabilitation in safe zones, the migrants would be allowed to visit the places where they lived prior to their migration to see the condition of their property. They can decide to restore the property, Yaseen said. The Minister said government does not want the migrants to live the life of prisoners in secured zones. They would be allowed interaction with the common people so that the snapped communication between the two communities is restored and communal harmony strengthened. Yaseen said return of Kashmiri pandits has been a commitment by the ruling coalition and time has come to fulfill it. Plus the Muslims of Kashmir are eagerly waiting for the return of migrant pandits. They feel that Kashmir is incomplete without pandits. Now their dreams are also being fulfilled and time is not far away when all Kashmiri pandits and Muslims will be living like a community similar to the period before the onset of militancy. Yaseen said about 60,000 families had migrated from Kashmir after the eruption of militancy in 1990. As many as 35,000 of them are getting relief while the rest 25,000 do not get it as their members are government employees. As a prelude to their return here, representatives of migrant pandits stayed here for a fortnight and visited all areas and met people of all walks of life including moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq who welcomed the move to bring back Kashmiri pandits in the valley. Four terrorist outfits which came to limelight with a suicide attack on the passengers of first Srinagar- Muzaffarabad bus on the eve of the historic launch of the service this April have imposed a ban on return of pandit migrants to the valley till they tender an apology to the Muslims for deserting them in the hour of crisis. Terrorist outfits Al-Nasireen, al Arifeen, Save Kashmir Movement and Farzandan-e-Millat alleged that pandits by migrating to the safer places in other parts of the country had helped the then Governor of the state Jagmohan in implementing his, what they called, 'anti Muslim plans'. 'Pandits should also announce that India is forcibly occupying Jammu and Kashmir and they would be prepared for all kind of sacrifices like the Muslims till the goal of independence is achieved,' four terrorist outfits had said. The terrorist outfits targetted the leadership of moderate faction of Hurriyat labelling them as 'anti-movement' and said by exchanging garlands with leaders of Hurriyat Conference 'the pandits cannot be absolved of their crimes and mistakes. The assurance handed out by the Hurriyat will not protect the pandits from our attacks,' they warned. However, Jammu and Kashmir all migrant camps coordination committee (AMCC) said the threats given by four terrorist outfits have no basis as 'they are mere agents of some vested interests' who do not want Kashmiri pandits to come back to their homes and hearths. AMCC leaders Vederji Billou and Desh Rattan Pandita said, 'No force can stop pandits from returning to their homes and they will go whenever they feel. The situation is conducive for their return'. They said the situation has improved in the valley and the pandits will return to valley one day.