A newly-launched organization claiming to speak on behalf of Kashmiri Pandits has demanded a single township within the Valley to rehabilitate the migrant community. The chairman of the organization, Mr Pajnoo, addressed a press conference in the summer capital on Saturday, saying that the township was the only viable solution for resettling displaced Pandits. According to him, Pandits are living a life of exile outside the Valley and their rehabilitation is not possible in isolated places or ancestral villages or areas in view of the prevailing situation In Kashmir. He urged the government to take immediate measures in this direction.
Several such organizations have been demanding a state within Kashmir for quite some time now. They have been issuing statements to enforce the demand, much to the disquiet of the people of Kashmir. Economic packages by New Delhi and the state government notwithstanding, the people of Kashmir have a major role to play in the Pandits’ homecoming. People here have never opposed their return. On the contrary, they have been speaking about their honourable and dignified rehabilitation in their native places in the Valley. But some self styled leaders of the migrants seem to ignore this reality. They have to bear in mind that, with all its military might, the Government of India has failed to send the migrants back to Kashmir for the past twenty-three years. It is the people of Kashmir who can facilitate their return. But when unscrupulous people, claiming to represent the migrants, issue foolish statements to cause psychological injury to the people of Kashmir, the consequences can only be imagined.
Such self styled leaders make a living out of exploiting the hapless migrants. They have made it amply clear (in private meetings) that they would never return to the valley. But there are people among the migrants who are nostalgic about the Valley and want to return. They should take the people of Kashmir on board if they are genuinely interested in rehabilitation of the community. Whatever the plan is, it has to be endorsed by the people of Kashmir who are averse to the very idea of a “separate homeland,” for it negates the traditions of harmony and amity Kashmir stands for. A realistic plan with emphasis on rehabilitating Pandits in their native places, particularly practicable in large measure in rural Kashmir, would be a sane and rational path to rehabilitation. Ghettoising a community, with centuries of shared history and living, is a thoroughly bad idea, unjust, and a slur on all Kashmiris.