Composite Colonies Will Make Pandits Vulnerable: Tickoo

8 April 2015
Greater Kashmir
Haroon Mirani

Srinagar: A section of Kashmiri Pandits Wednesday termed the plans to create 'composite townships' for the migrant community as unfeasible.The Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS) lashed out at the Centre and state government over the 'half-baked plan.' 'It is simply making Pandits vulnerable and under such circumstances nobody will come back,' said Sanjay Tickoo, president of KPSS. 'At present we have no idea how this composite colony would look like. Would there be people of other cultures or religions in it or it would be specific to Kashmiri Pandits. In the latter case, it won't be composite.' Tickoo said government should have prepared the ground first by taking all the stakeholders into confidence and then come up with a plan rather than 'thrusting it on people from top-down.' 'Even separatists have time and again called for return of Pandits, but this is not the way to bring them back,' said Tickoo. He said the government has 'embarked on a dangerous plan which will result in a setback to any future return of Pandits.' 'I live here among my Muslim and Sikh brothers. I celebrate all festivals here and that is what I call living in a composite culture,' said Tickoo. 'The proposed townships envisaged by the government would make people like us, who never migrated, vulnerable.' The Kashmir-based organization said some parts of the plan are good but 'the mode of execution looks dangerous.' 'Majority of Pandits have sold their land and houses here and even if they want to come back, they won't be able to do that. So for such cases the construction of houses is fine, but establishing them inside exclusive zones won't help,' said Tickoo. 'In our meetings with central government, we had proposed them to implement the smart city project in Kashmir in such a way that will include Pandits too. Last year too when Rajnath Singh asked Omar Abdullah to find land for Kashmiri Pandits, it grew into a controversy.' KPSS estimates that given all the facilities provided by the government, only 10 to 15 percent of Kashmiri Pandits would choose to return. 'It is a historical fact that 80-85 percent of the community which has been forced to migrate won't come back and same is the case with Pandits,' said Tickoo. 'Now there is an incentive of house, so some Pandits would love the idea to own a summer villa in Kashmir for which they won't have to pay rent during holidays here. Don't expect them to live here in harsh winters or in floods, in which people like me lived.' Tickoo urged the political parties to stop playing politics on Kashmiri Pandits. 'In our state everybody is a sufferer. Be it Muslims, Sikhs or Pandits everybody suffered and is suffering, so why are you exploiting sentiments of Pandits only. It looks more of an election stunt for them as UP elections are nearing for BJP,' said Tickoo. 'Creating such zones would require constitution amendment, so are they ready to do that? They should stop such gimmicks and think something practical. Even people from our side will oppose such a plan. If there is a threat perception nobody will return.'