May 2018 News

J&K Govt. Revokes Order On Kashmiri Pandits' Pilgrimage Registration

14 May 2018
The Hindu
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: Kashmiri Pandits are sons of the soil and they do not need any permission to visit the shrines in the Valley, says Minister. The Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday removed a senior official and ordered a probe into the official directive asking migrant Kashmiri Pandits to register before embarking on any pilgrimage at the historic temples of the Kashmir Valley. 'Migrant Kashmiri Pandits belong to this soil. They don't need to register for such religious pilgrimages. They don't require any permission from the government. We cannot have them questioned or scrutinized. The order has sent a wrong signal,' said Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Javaid Mustafa Mir in Srinagar. Earlier, an order publicised through local dailies asked migrant Kashmiri Pandits, who left the Valley in large numbers as militancy raged in 1990s, to register with the department before embarking on any pilgrimage to the historic temples at Tulmul in Ganderbal, Tikker in Kupwara, Manzgam in Kulgam and Mattan in Anantnag. 'The order was issued without my knowledge. The official has been relieved and the General Administration Department (GAD) has been asked to attach the official [of deputy commissioner's rank],' said Mr. Mustafa, while withdrawing the order. A government probe would also 'ascertain the reason behind the notice'. Tens of thousands of migrant Pandits visit the Valley every year to hold special prayers at these temples. The order evoked condemnation from the Pandit organisation, the civil society and regional parties in Kashmir. 'This is not only absurd but also highly insensitive. Kashmiri Pandits don't need permission from anyone to come back home or to pay obeisance at Khir Bhawani,' said National Conference (NC) spokesman Tanvir Sadiq.