Kashmiri pandits tell Sharma to settle them in clusters

Kashmiri pandits tell Sharma to settle them in clusters
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National Conference leader says they can’t live at their ‘original places’ in the Valley

Jammu: The Government of India’s special envoy on Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, on Friday visited Jagti area here, the largest township of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits, and met people to understand their problems.
He visited several households in the area where people apprised him of their problems, officials said.
Sharma, who visited Srinagar and Jammu earlier this month, is in the state for the next four days.
The officials said that Sharma would also meet people who came from West Pakistan immediately after Partition in 1947 and settled in Jammu. There are nearly three lakh such people.
Besides, he will visit camps housing those displaced from their homes in border villages to understand their plight and ensure that they are properly rehabilitated.
Sharma, a former Intelligence Bureau chief, was appointed the interlocutor on October 23 to hold talks with all stakeholders in an effort to find lasting peace in parts of Kashmir.
Around 60,000 Kashmiri Pandit families migrated in 1990 after the onset of militancy. Of these, 39,000 families based themselves in various camps in Jammu.
Sharma will also visit the “ground zero” of unrest in south Kashmir’s Pulwama and Anantnag districts, they said.
The high point of his visit will be his interactions with youths and students in Pulwama and Anantnag, the officials added.
These districts were the epicentre of unrest following the encounter killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8 last year.
After his first visit to Kashmir Valley, Sharma suggested that cases against 4,500 youths involved in stone pelting for the first time be dropped in a bid to win hearts.
Over 11,500 cases against stone pelters have been registered since July last year following Wani’s death. Of these, over 4,500 youths were first-time stone pelters.
In Jammu, a delegation of the minority cell of the opposition National Conference (NC) strongly batted for rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in clusters to “ensure preservation of culture” of the community.
“We met Sharma here today. We told him Kashmiri Pandits cannot live in their original places. They should be accommodated in clusters in Kashmir when they are brought back after normalcy returns to the Valley,” NC leader Vijay Bakaya told reporters at the township.
Bakaya, a former chief secretary in the state government and an advisor to ex-chief minister Farooq Abdullah, led the delegation.
“Living in clusters will ensure preservation of culture and traditions of the community besides giving them a sense of security,” he said.
Bakaya asked the state government to ensure a conducive atmosphere for the return of the displaced community to the Valley, saying the Pandits were “ready to play their role”.
A delegation of Jagti Tenement Association also met Sharma. Its president Shadi Lal Pandita raised the issue of constructing a township in the Valley and criticised the statement of the government of India that no township will be set up.
Some people at the township were angry after finding their names were not on the list of those allowed to meet Sharma. They claimed that Sharma had come to interact with the residents of Jagti Camp but the Kashmiri Pandits from non-camp areas and political parties were invited instead.
“He should have met us, the residents of Jagti instead of meeting political parties,” a Jagti resident said.

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