Kashmiri Pandits still in camps after 15 years
18 March 2006
The Daily Times
Washington DC: The Indo-American Kashmir Forum, which is based here, has claimed that there are 350,000 internally displaced Pandits living outside the Kashmir Valley. In August 2004, the Jammu and Kashmir government announced plans to help displaced Kashmiri Pandits return to the Valley, but at year’s end, no such movement had taken place, Vijay Sazawal of the Indo-American Kashmir Forum said in a statement at the weekend. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, at least 650,000 persons were displaced due to conflicts in Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, and the northeast. There was no progress on the plight of around 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits who were forced to flee the Kashmir Valley in the early 1990s. The Pandits remained in refugee camps in Jammu and New Delhi, some 15 years after the start of the insurgency, and were unable to return to their homes because of safety concerns, including the on-going killings of Hindus in the state. Indian government statistics show that there were 55,476 registered Kashmiri Pandit families living in Jammu, 34,088 in Delhi, and 19,338 in other states receiving government support. Government-managed camps housed 5,778 families in Delhi and Jammu. The government provided monthly cash relief of $70 (Rs 3,000) and basic dry rations to the 14,869 families in Jammu. In Delhi, authorities provided $75 (Rs 3,200) to 4,100 families.