May 2016 News

Will Give Pandits Transit Lodging Till They Build Their Houses: Mehbooba

28 May 2016
Times of India
M Saleem Pandit

Srinagar: Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday said her government would provide transit accommodation to displaced Kashmiris while they build houses to live with the rest of the population, like they did prior to the exodus in the 1990s. She said the accommodation would be similar to that provided to political activists, who are lodged at various hotels in Srinagar for security reasons. 'In the same manner, the PDP-BJP (government) has agreed on establishing transit accommodation for displaced Valley residents, whether they are Kashmiri Pandits, Muslims or Sikhs,' she said in the state assembly, adding that the reintegration of Kashmiri Pandits was among the objectives of the agenda for alliance forged with BJP in March 2015. 'How is it possible to bring Kashmiri Pandits back to their original residences when they cannot feel secure? We cannot set the cat among the pigeons,' the CM said. Mehbooba said her late father, former CM Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, was eager to get displaced Kashmiris back as soon as possible. 'I will try to bring all the displaced people back to their native (places) with honour and respect, come what may, so that they can live a peaceful life here with the rest of population.' She also sought to assuage concerns about the proposed 'sainik colony' in the Valley, saying only state subjects would be entitled to land in it. Mehbooba's clarification come amid protests over proposed enclaves for Kashmiri Pandits as well as the soldiers' colony, with critics alleging that the government planned to make 'Israel-type settlements'. Relief and rehabilitation minister Basharat Bukhari told the assembly that each displaced Kashmiri Pandit family was getting Rs 2,500 per month, along with nine kg rice, two kg flour and one kg, per head, sugar. He added that two families that had returned were given Rs 12.50 lakh to construct houses.