May 2016 News

Prefer To Live In Combined Colonies Than Separate Clusters, Say Kashmiri Pandits

25 May 2016
Kashmir Reader
Shabir Ahmad

Anantnag: Even as the government's proposal on separate colonies for Kashmiri Pandits continues to create a political storm, some migrant KPs living in transit accommodation at Vesoo in Anantnag district say they will prefer to live in 'combined colonies', along with other communities, than in separate clusters. They also blamed pro-India political parties of 'playing politics' over their rehabilitation. 'We will prefer to live in combined colonies with other communities than in separate clusters. The government is deliberately creating confusion by giving different names to these proposed colonies. We have a long history of communal harmony, and instead of separate townships these colonies should be simply named 'residential accommodation for all' where all the communities can live together,' President All Jammu and Kashmir Displaced Youth Forum (AJKDYF), Sanjay Koul told Kashmir Reader. 'In this colony at least 12 Muslims have been living with us. We are living like brothers. But the irony is that the authorities are not taking those KPs into confidence who have been living here for years, but those who are well-settled and don't want to return at all,' he said. The colony was built by the previous NC-Congress coalition government for migrant Kashmiri Pandit youth who were employed under the special employment package announced by the then-prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2010. Around 500 migrant Pandits are putting up in the colony at present. Koul also blamed the 'mainstream political parties' of playing politics over the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits. 'Much politics is being done on the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits but the reality is that nobody is serious about their rehabilitation.' He, however, also rejected the demand of Hurriyat leaders that KPs should resettle at their native places. 'Most migrant KPs have sold their land and other properties to Muslims, particularly in urban areas. Do Hurriyat leaders want that KPs should demand the land back from Muslims? That is surely going to create trouble for both the communities. Hurriyat leaders have an equal responsibility in helping KPs resettle in the Valley and they should play a positive role,' Koul said. Kishan Tikoo, who has also lived in the colony for several years, shares these views. 'Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits are known for their communal bond and it will be much better if all the communities are provided accommodation in the colonies the government is planning to build,' he said, adding that resettling in their native villages was not possible for Kashmiri Pandits, 'We don't oppose the idea but the people who demand this have to see whether it is possible at this stage.' Another Kashmiri Pandit, who requested not to be named, said, 'The government has clarified that the colonies are meant for all the communities, not KPs alone. We will be happy to live with the people of other communities.'