BUDGAM: Kashmiri Pandits, who had returned to the Valley after years of exile in Jammu and have been living in exclusive settlements, asked the state government and the government of India to resettle them in Jammu until a final decision on the rehabilitation of the community is taken.
Representatives from various settlements spoke at a one-day convention titled ‘Let Us Understand Our Pain’ at Sheikpora, Budgam.
“Our main motive for today’s convention is to tell the government that Kashmir Pandits are facing a depressed and isolated life here. We lack freedom of speech, expression and importantly freedom to pursue happiness here,” said Ruban Sapru, organiser of the event.
Accusing the government of playing with their sentiments, Ruban said, “The government has completely failed to rehabilitate the 1500 migrant Kashmiri Pandits who returned to Kashmir under PM’S job package. Every day we have to fight for water, electricity and other routine things. What assurance do we have that the rest of the 5 lakh Pandits whom the government is planning to rehabilitate here in the so-called composite townships will face no problems?”
Another representative called the returnees “bonded labourers”, apparently to criticise the state government policy that made it compulsory for migrant Pandits to return to the Valley if given a government job.
“It was a plan to bring us back to this hell. If the government was truly serious to improve our economic stability then this package should have been implemented in Jammu rather than in Kashmir. It was a known fact that majority of the KP’s were living in Jammu and they have been deprived from due share of employment for the last two decades.”
Vinod, who had returned under the job package, said, “We have forgotten Gayatri mantra here and learnt Islamiyaat. We have not returned to learn that.”
He said the Muslims taunt him in the office and call him Daali Bate.
“I want to tell those people that the advisor to their chief minister is Amitabh Matoo, a ‘Daali Bate.’”
Another employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “Since we came here there is no peace of mind. “
The speakers asked the Pandits to remain united, so that they can achieve their goal of “return to Jammu”.
“Look at the unity among the Muslims. They challenged the Supreme Court’s decisions on beef ban and went for a strike. Entire Kashmir was shut. If they can do it for an animal, why can’t we unite for our rights?” said another speaker.
“This paradise on earth was hell for our parents, is hell for us and will remain hell for our children. And to save our children from this hell, we want to go back.”