June 2016 News

Separatists To Talk Rehab With Pandits

17 June 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Ishfaq Tantry

Srinagar: Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq today said separatists had decided to constitute a committee to initiate a dialogue process with the migrant Kashmiri Pandits to understand their concerns and find ways for their return. The joint committee will have members from both the hardline and moderate factions of the Hurriyat besides members from the J&K Liberation Front headed by Yasin Malik. Mirwaiz said this that while addressing a gathering protesting against the 'anti-Kashmir policies' of the government outside the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar after the Friday prayers. He, however, made it clear that the separatists would continue their opposition to the establishment of separate townships for the migrant Pandits. He termed the proposed Sainik Colony and the new industrial policy as 'a ploy to facilitate the entry of non-state subjects' in Jammu and Kashmir and thus 'change' its 'demographic character as well as its disputed nature.' A couple of days earlier on June 13, a delegation of the Kashmiri Pandit's Return and Rehabilitation Forum had met Mirwaiz at his Nigeen residence to discuss and explore the ways for the return of migrant Kashmiri Pandits. 'It has been agreed upon by the resistance leadership, including Geelani Saheb, Yasin Malik Saheb and me, that a group would be formed from our parties that will initiate a process of dialogue and deliberation with the Kashmiri Pandits across the board to understand their concerns and the help as well as the assurances they need with regard to their return to the Valley,' Mirwaiz told the gathering. 'From our side we ask them (migrant Pandits) to meet the Pandits living here (in Kashmir who did not migrate) and see for themselves that they are the most secure living side by side with other communities rather than if they would be living in separate colonies. However, as soon as the protest ended, the protesting youth took to the streets and pelted the police and paramilitary forces deployed nearby with stones. Pitched battles were seen between the two sides, with the police later resorting to tear-smoke shelling to disperse the protesters.