Migrant Pandits have rightly rejected the government’s idea of outsourcing their rehabilitation in the Valley to a society. But several organizations claiming to speak on behalf of the displaced community continue to pursue the demand for “a separate homeland with constitutional guarantees” within the Valley. Their self-styled leaders, especially those who subscribe to the RSS ideology, are still flirting with the plan of a separate city near Srinagar and perceive it as the only option for rehabilitating the migrants. Groups like the Panun Kashmir and the All State Kashmiri Pandit Conference (ASKPC) have consented to carving out a homeland within the Valley as a permanent solution to the problems of Kashmiri Pandits.
Briefing the members of a visiting Parliamentary Sub Committee, the Panun Kashmir president, Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, made it clear that the Margdarshan Resolution of 1991 was the only viable alternative to solve the Pandits’ problems. Kashmiris have never objected to the return of the migrants. Thousands of appeals have been made from different quarters seeking their honourable and dignified return. But the return has to serve a purpose. It must preserve and promote the composite culture of Kashmir. Forcing migrants to live in compartments would defeat this purpose. Many in the community would rightly deem it not only undesirable but also fraught with risk.
The government must do some ground work before constructing cities and towns to rehabilitate the migrants. Let them meet the people in the Valley and reach a comfort level so that the return becomes smooth and purposeful. During the past two decades, there has been no interaction between the two communities and this is where the problem lies. Most of the people in the Valley believe that the migrants are well off in Jammu and elsewhere and do not want to return. Let them first decide whether or not they want to return. Groups and individuals bent upon injecting communal overtones, and that too into a deeply human issue, should not be encouraged. The practical aspects of the migrants’ rehabilitation should not be turned into an excuse for the community’s ghetto-isation and isolation in its own native land.