June 2016 News

Kashmiri Pandits Slam Migration Figures; Reject State Government Figures

10 June 2016
The Economic Times
Hakeem Irfan

Srinagar: Even as the return of Kashmiri pandits has again exposed the political faultlines in Kashmir, the state government released figures stating that around 1,54,080 people migrated from Kashmir in 1990. Kashmiri pandits living in the state contradict the government figures, claiming that the number was much higher and they would approach the court to get the exact figures. The PDP-BJP government has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to facilitate return of Kashmiri pandits by establishing colonies to manage their reentry into Valley. Narendra Modi-led NDA government has also shown keen interest in the project and commenced many meetings with the state government to identify land for the colonies as well. However, pro-freedom leaders who otherwise welcome the return of pandits to their ancestral places and Kashmiri pandits living in the state, have rejected the idea of 'ghettoisation' fearing it would make the community vulnerable and fructify 'New Delhi's plans to establish Israel type settlements in Kashmir.' Influential pro-freedom leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, have called for a joint seminar on June 12 and symbolic protest on June 15, against the government's decision to establish separate colonies for pandits. 'The figures are definitely very low. In my constituency of Habba Kadal alone there were around 60,000 pandits in 1989. Does that mean there were only 90,000 pandits in rest of Kashmir,' president Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, which represents around 651 pandit families, who didn't leave Kashmir, Sanjay Tikoo told ET. In 2016, J&K government in reply to a question of a legislator Pawan Gupta, released the figures, revealed that 18,732 migrant families - 64,216 souls from Kashmir and 1,054 families - 5180 souls - were getting relief from the government.