June 2016 News

Pandits Divided Over Return To The Valley

12 June 2016

Tulmulla: The Kashmiri Pandits who migrated from the Valley in the 1990s after the outbreak of militancy, are divided over the proposal of establishing separate settlements for them in the Valley. While some members of the community oppose the setting up of separate colonies, others feel that it is the ideal proposition considering their security and safety. 'We do not want separate colonies, we want to live with our Muslim brothers,' said M. K. Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit, who was earlier a resident of Pampore in south Kashmir's Pulwama district but now lives in Jammu. He said he would love to return to his roots and live at his native place. 'No one wants to live separately. We (Pandits and Muslims) are brothers and we have to live like brothers. I only want a piece of land in Pampore so that I can live there,' he said. Mr. Bhat accused the government of raking up the issue of separate settlements for the Pandits around the time the Kheer Bhawani Mela is held. 'They (government) want us (Hindus and Muslims) to fight. Whenever the Mela comes, they rake up the issue of separate colonies. I want to ask them, who among us has said that we want separate colonies,' he said. Another Pandit, Vijay Bhat, a native of Budgam in central Kashmir, said the Pandits want to return but do not want to live under the shadow of the gun. 'I want your (Muslim community) security and not the security of the gun. I do not want the security of the Army, of the CRPF, I want your love and security,' he said. Vijay said the Muslim majority of the Valley was not their enemy. 'Locals are not our enemies. Of course, there are some miscreants, but they are everywhere. We have lived as brothers for ages and we will live as brothers,' he said. However, Ramesh Nath, another Pandit, said establishing separate colonies was an ideal proposal. 'That will be ideal from the safety point of view. We are interested in returning but where will we live? We have sold our properties and that cannot be retrieved now, so separate settlements are a good idea as it will also help us build confidence and trust,' Mr. Nath said. He said unless the situation gets better, it will be difficult for the Pandits to return to live at their native places. 'You see the situation is not that good. Though the process of return has been initiated, it will take some more time. Unless the situation gets better, it will be very difficult,' he said.