Composite townships: Kashmir vows to oppose settlements

Composite townships: Kashmir vows to oppose settlements

Wasim Khalid

Srinagar: Pro-freedom and civil society groups, intellectuals and prominent members of minority communities on Sunday opposed the government’s plan to rehabilitate migrant Kashmiri Pandits in separate settlements, while demanding an investigation by international agencies into circumstances under which the Pandits migrated to Jammu in 1990.
“A credible international probe should investigate the reasons which led to migration of Kashmiri Pandits and also fix the responsibility for their exodus. The said probe may also go into the exact number of Kashmir Pandits who got dislocated in 1990,” said a joint resolution passed at a function organised at the end of a daylong seminar organized by Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).
Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims hold diametrically opposite views about the exodus. While most Pandits blame the majority community for their migration, Muslims believe former governor Jagmohan engineered it, although various other factors were also responsible. Muslims cite the example of about 20,000 Pandits who chose to stay back at that time to prove their point.
JKLF chairman Mohammad Yaseen Malik, who was on a 30-hour-long fast in protest against the creation of separate settlements, presided over the seminar that was called to discuss the issue.

JKLF–sponsored resolution says
Separate colonies unacceptable to all Kashmiri  Muslims, Pandits, Sikhs and Christians, as it will create walls of hatred and erode the age-old trust between various communities
JK belongs to all its state subjects. Every state subject who got dislocated from J&K in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1990 has the right to settle in any part of the State.
Pandits will be welcome to restore the ethos of Kashmir reflected in amity, harmony and brotherhood among the various communities
Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits and other communities should fight together against suppression and oppression faced by the people of the state

Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs, Christians, various pro-freedom political parties, religious organizations, civil Society groups, intellectuals, academics, poets, trade bodies and business chambers participated in the seminar and jointly adopted the resolution which vehemently rejected separate colonies for the Pandits.
A majority of the speakers termed the settlements as a ploy to change the political character of the state and vowed that they will not allow the creation of “another Palestine”.
All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee chairman Jagmohan Singh Raina said that New Delhi was stoking inter-community discord, instead of promoting peace.
“The idea of establishing separate colonies for migrant Pandits is an effort to pollute the society. They (Delhi) want to polarize the society,” he said.
“As Kashmiris, whether we are Sikhs, Muslims or Pandits, we have to collectively fight against such a move”.
Raina said Kashmiri Pandits have been coming to Kashmir to attend celebrations at Kheerbhawani and other sacred places.
“People have welcomed them with open arms and never had inflicted any harm upon them,” he said. “Then why create controversies by announcing separate ghettos for Pandits,” he added.
Raina said every Kashmiri has faced turbulent events in Kashmir.
“The cowards among Kashmiris including Sikhs, Pandits and Muslims left the valley during the turbulent times. Other continued to lives here and face the circumstances,” he added.
“So we should not blame each other for the exodus.”
Prominent Kashmiri Pandit, Professor CL Vishen, who never left Kashmir, said that Pandits have always lived with their Kashmiri brethren in harmony
“Muslim brothers have always offered us safety,” Vishoo said.  “Now the government is doing politics over Pandit issue by announcing separate settlements.”
Christian preacher Father Vino Koul said all the communities living in Kashmiri were Kashmiris and living as one unit.
“The talk of separate colonies for Pandits is just politics being played over the return of Pandits. We would not accept any politics on this issue,” he said.
On the conclusion of seminar, JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik ended his hunger strike after Jammu Kashmir Bar Association President Mian Abdul Qayoom offered him a glass of juice.
President Jammu Kashmir High Court Bar Association Mian Qayoom said that Kashmiris never objected the return of Kashmiri Pandits.
“We object the separate colonies and conditions put forward by the government for their return,” Qayoom said. “Let they live among us”.
He said the government was exaggerating the numbers of Pandits.
Dukhtran-e-Millat Chief, Asia Andrabi said that Kashmiris have always maintained communal harmony and we welcome the return of Kashmiri Pandits back to their homes.
“The majority Muslim community would safeguard Kashmiris. Whether it may be Sikh, Pandit, or Christian, they are inalienable part of our society and it is the duty of majority community to safeguard them,” she said
“But we would object to Israel type settlements for Pandits. They are part of our social milieu, let they live along with us,” she added.