Pandits And Separatists Oppose Plans To Create Isolated 'ghettos' In Kashmir
24 June 2014
: Both Kashmiri separatists and pandits are opposing the Centre's plan for isolated settlements for Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, as part of its rehabilitation policy. Leading the separatist voices is Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Geelani, who alleges that 'New Delhi is attempting to change demography of the state' under the guise of rehabilitating Kashmiri Pandits. Geelani claims that he has information that PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh in their meetings with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in New Delhi last week sought land in North, South and Central Kashmir to rehabilitate the pandits. The Hurriyat hardline leader says on the pretext of rehabilitating Kashmiri Pandits, 'non-residents of Jammu and Kashmir' will be settled in these isolated zones. He alleges the government also plans to settle 'armed RSS activists and other persons' in these cities. 'Not a single person in Kashmir is against the return of Kashmiri Pandits. But they must be settled in their own homes and not in special zones as they are the integral part of our culture,' Geelani argues. Kashmiri Pandits also oppose the Centre's plan but for different reasons. Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti chairman Sanjay Tickoo says the separate zones will set a dangerous precedent at a time when outfits like Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) is spreading in the Islamic world. 'Wherever there is minority (community) it should live with the majority, and the majority should be magnanimous enough to take care of security and safety of the minority,' he said. Separate settlements will go against the basic ethos of Kashmir and Sufi tradition and they are no guarantee that they will remain safe, Tickoo says. 'Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits share an age old bond of brotherhood, and isolated clusters can end this bond forever.' However, he says that since Kashmiri Pandits have sold their houses in the Valley, they can be settled at some selected place along with Kashmiri Muslims. 'Find a land and let both Kashmiri muslims and pandits live there together,' he says. Tickoo's fear is that the move to settle Kashmiri Pandits in specific zones will have repercussions for those of the community who didn't migrate. Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq advises caution in this regard. 'Entire Kashmir is for rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits. Let them come and settle in their homes and integrate with society,' he told Mail Today. 'If government plans Gaza-like settlements and goes ahead with it, it will not serve any purpose and complicate the issue further.'