February 2006 News

Pandits' Return Part Of Kashmir Solution: Umer

3 February 2006
The Indian Express

Jammu: Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq today stressed that return of Kashmiri Pandits was a part of the solution to the Kashmir issue. He said that Hurriyat did not believe that Pandits should return after the Kashmir issue was resolved. 'Kashmir is a different issue and we never want to club it with the return issue,' Umer said in his first-ever interaction with the Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu.Addressing Pandits in the interaction organised by the the Action Committee for the Return of Migrants, Mirwaiz said there was need to 'rebuild the trust' so that the Pandits could return and live in the Valley as they had been living there for centuries. He rejected their return to the cluster accommodations in the valley, terming them as 'worse than jails'. Stressing that Kashmiri Muslims were not communal, Umer said all of them want that Pandits should return to their homes with dignity and honour. He said they left the Valley in 1990, and the majority community could not help as most of the leaders were in jails. Mirwaiz said even in Pakistan, major challenges before the Kashmiri society was the return of the Pandits. Recalling the relations of the Pandits with his family, he said that without Kashmiri Pandits the Kashmiri ethos was incomplete. However, he made it clear that Pandits should not wait for the situation to normalise. 'One has to take risks. When we took the initiative to conduct talks with the Centre, we took a risk. My uncle was killed and our 100-year-old school was burnt,' he said. Umer said different solutions being suggested, like joint control and United States of Kashmir, should be discussed at intra-regional level and with both India and Pakistan. Umer said that as far he can see , 'federal structure' was one of the probable solutions and it should also be discussed. Some Pandits asked him questions and offered some suggestions. R L Bhan urged the Hurriyat leaders to organise more such interactions. Veteran mediaperson Ved Bhasin said the ceasefire that exists on the borders should be extended to the entire state. Rejecting the homeland demand of the Pandits, Hurriyat's interlocutor with the Pandits Syed Salim Geelani aid such demands create hatred and slow down the process of return. 'Their homeland should be in the hearts of the Kashmiri Muslims,' he said. Others who spoke on the occasion included Jatinder Bakshi, Prof A N Sadhu, Prof Zahuruddin, Prof B L Koul. Earlier in the day, before offering Friday prayers at Jama Masjid at Residency Road, Umer urged the Muslims to use higher education and technology to march ahead. He said that Islam was being linked to terrorism and this was evident from the fact that many Muslim countries were being targeted. He urged the Muslims to get united and have a progressive outlook. FIR against Umer? JAMMU: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday claimed that it got an FIR registered against the Chairman of the Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, and his supporters for raising anti-india slogans on their arrival at Jammu. The party claimed that the FIR was registered at Satwari police station. A statement issued by the party president, Som Nath Dabgotra, said the party strongly opposed the Hurriyat for raising slogans that would vitiate the atmosphere in the state. However, police officials at the Satwari police station said they had no information on the issue.


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