BJP, Congress Seek Government Help For Kashmiri Pandits' Return

8 May 2015

New Delhi: BJP and Congress members in Lok Sabha today pitched for the return of Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) to the Valley asking the government to provide them all facilities, even as BJP members termed Article 370 of the Constitution as an obstacle and sought its removal. Speaking on a private resolution moved by Nishikant Dubey (BJP) seeking immediate steps for rehabilitation of displaced persons from Kashmir, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (Cong) however said the prevailing circumstances in the Valley do not inspire confidence among the KPs due to the recent occurences including separatist activities there. Initiating the debate, Dubey said 'conspiracies' were being hatched for long to force the pandits out of the Valley and blamed the previous Congress-led dispensation at the Centre and National Conference-led regime in the state for their policies which, he said, had led to such a situation. He alleged that 'dreaded terrorists' were released by the erstwhile Farooq Abdullah government and the pandits were discriminated against, leading to their 'forced exile'. 'Government must provide all facilities to those who want to return,' Dubey said. His long-winding speech in which he mostly spoke about the Valley's history and its political evolution drew jibes from opposition leaders, with Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge nudging him to speak on the present issues concerning the exiled community and not teach them 'history'. B Mahtab (BJD) rose to correct him when he referred to Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as 'Azad Kashmir', as it is called in Pakistan. Prahlad Patel (BJP) spoke against Article 370, which gives special rights for Jammu and Kashmir, saying it 'is an obstacle and should be scrapped.' He also said if an all-party delegation goes to the Valley, it will realise that this was not needed. In his speech, Chowdhury also lamented that India did not have a policy for internally-displaced persons and said the KPs, after their forced exile, had thought their pain will be over in weeks. 'Weeks turned into months, months into years... There is no light at the end of the tunnel for them,' he said, adding that the government should provide all help to those willing to return to their homeland. Security is their biggest concern, he said, adding that the recent incidents in which Pakistani flags were hoisted 'do not inspire any confidence among the community'.