It's Raining Sops For Kashmiri Pandits

27 August 2009
Daily News & Analysis

Srinagar: The government is raining sops on Kashmiri Pandits to encourage their honourable return to the Valley 19 years after they migrated. 'Around Rs1618.40 crore has been earmarked under prime minister's package for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandit migrants in the Valley,' minister for revenue, relief and rehabilitation Raman Bhalla told the legislative assembly. Main features of the plan include cash assistance of Rs7.50 lakh for construction and renovation of the house of every migrant who sold his property before 1997. Transit accommodation would be made available for six months. If the migrants make their own rented arrangement, the rent shall be reimbursed. The migrants who wish to return and set up income generating units shall be entitled to cash assistance of Rs5 lakh, of which Rs2.50 lakh will be the subsidy component and Rs2.50 lakh recoverable in easy instalments. 'The migrants shall be entitled for relief for two years after they return. School-going children will get a monthly scholarship of Rs750,' Bhalla said. 'Azadi' appeals to Mehbooba PDP president Mehbooba Mufti took everyone by surprise during the debate on the chief minister's grants when she said, 'Azadi sentiment cannot be tackled without understanding its genesis and responding to it with an alternative. Separatist sentiment in J&K cannot be addressed by filling jails or muzzling the voice of dissent. Sixty two years of our suffering should be enough for us to raise the level of debate on Kashmir from petty partisan bickering to an informed joint effort for dignified life.' She also hit out at the Centre, saying that through a series of Acts it has shaken the confidence of people in the state, which fed alienation among them, leading to 'plebiscite or Azadi' demands. She even said it had become fashionable to dub as 'separatist' anybody speaking up for the people of J&K. Govt might ask army to pay rent The Jammu and Kashmir government said on Wednesday that the army had illegally occupied 170 acres of land at the famous hill resort of Gulmarg and was mulling to charge rent from them, said a PTI report. Replying to a call attention motion in the legislative council, youth services and sports minister RS Chib said the army had 'illegally' occupied 170 acres of land at Gulmarg.