Govt had identified land near Pampore for Pandit enclave

Moazum Mohammad

Pandits living in Kashmir

New Delhi: The PDP-led coalition government in the state had identified land for a township for migrant Kashmiri Pandits near Government Joinery Mill, Pampore, and chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had been called to New Delhi to discuss progress on its acquisition, Kashmir Reader has learnt.
A source said that the land near Pampore was considered suitable because it is located close to the Srinagar-Jammu highway and the old airport.
A senior PDP leader, who is against the settlement of Kashmiri Pandits in exclusive enclaves, said on the condition of anonymity that the issue (acquisition of land) was discussed during the two-month long negotiations between the BJP and PDP over government formation. In fact, he said, a few Kashmiri Pandit leaders had been consulted before the land near Pampore was identified.
“It wasn’t mentioned in the Agenda for Alliance (a guiding framework for governance for PDP-BJP coalition) but there was tacit agreement between the two,” he told Kashmir Reader.
Mufti had on Tuesday informed Home minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi that his government will acquire the land soon for “composite townships” for migrant Pandits. Pro-freedom groups, who believe the townships are no different that Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine, called for protests on Friday and a strike on Saturday.
The Opposition had pulled up the government in the Assembly, with the Congress accusing it of promising New Delhi 500 kanals for the townships. The outrage forced Mufti to announce in the House that his government had no plans to settle Kashmiri Hindus in separate clusters.
Also, the previous PDP-Congress coalition had identified land for another such township in Qazigund, in 2006-07. But no headway could be made because 50 percent of the land was to be acquired from locals. The other half of it was grazing land.
The source said that current coalition government has revived the proposal.
Sanjay Tickoo, president of Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, confirmed that plans had been made to acquire land at Qazigund, but could not take off.
All India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS), an amalgam of 62 Pandit organisations, said none of its member groups had been consulted before the announcing the move.
“It was as surprising for us as it was for you. We are used to such announcements because they lack seriousness,” said general secretary AKIS Dr Romesh Raina.
However, he said that return of Pandits was not possible without such exclusive townships.
“How can we create pre 1990 situation? Can we annul sales (of properties sold by about 93 percent of Pandits since 1990). Kashmiris must understand the political relation of India with Kashmir is as good as any other state. Can Kashmir grow without India? Basically, mainstream politics has been overshadowed by separatism, terrorism and violence,” Raina said.
For Tickoo, who is one of the Pandits who did not migrate, the talk of exclusive townships “is an emotional thing”.
“It is not possible because it will be a state within state,” Tickoo said.