Civil Society opposes ‘protected enclaves’ for pandits

Moazum Mohammad
Srinagar: Even as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government is mulling to settle Kashmir pandits in isolated settlements in the valley, an inter-community conference on Saturday unanimously opposed the plan and sought establishment of International truth commission to study the reasons for migration of pandits and crossing over of young boys to other side of Line of Control (LoC).
The delegates in the 4-hour long round table conference organized by Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS) at a local hotel here raised apprehensions about the “protected enclaves” to be carved out in Kashmir and instead sought integration of migrant pandits into the society.
The members representing Muslim, Pandit and Sikh communities passed a resolution that unless “conducive atmosphere” is not prevalent here, their return is not viable and the recently announced union government rehabilitation package for pandits should include those pandits who stayed back in Kashmir.
“Whatever happened in 90’s was an aberration and that we feel incomplete without pandits in the valley. We have apprehensions about Government of India’s plan of creating protected zones. The migration was a historical tragedy but Muslims faced colossal sufferings which are unexplainable. Pandits have to acknowledge sufferings of Muslims and same way we must accept theirs as well,” said Chairperson KCSDS Hameeda Nayeem in her opening remarks as a moderator of the Conference.
Chairman Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti chairman Sanjay Tickoo stated that the pandits who left the Valley in 90’s should not be relocated in separate zones. “We oppose it. Instead civil society must push the case for compensation to 55 Internally Displaced Families (IDP) in Kashmir, who face hardships. Unemployed pandit youth should be included in Prime Minister’s employment package,” Tickloo said.
Opposing the isolated settlement, a Kashmir Pandit ML Bhat termed the separate zone as “political agenda” of NDA led government. “Pandits aren’t willing to come. The settlement of pandits in separate zones is political agenda of the Union government. We don’t support it,” he said.
Highlighting the suffering faced by Muslims in the valley during 90’s, a Sikh Rajvant Singh said that when Sikhs were killed during a communal riot in 1984 in Delhi they didn’t prefer to live in colonies.  “Similarly, pandits should oppose it and must realize the sufferings of Kashmiri Muslims during 90’s in the Valley. Nonagenarians weren’t spared as they too faced humiliation at the hands of forces. Our community also faced the brunt of crackdowns,” said Singh.
Prominent lawyer Zafar Shah stated that when the migration happened it was simply humanitarian problem but the state interest of Government of India snatches that perspective.
“In last 23-years, the issue has turned more of a political problem. Pandit community surrendered its interests to BJP and RSS on the basis of religion which created a negative impact here. If you believe you have to stay with us, you should refuse colonies. Your coming back is welcome but settlement in colonies is unwelcome,” added Shah.