Omar Abdullah calls for unanimous voice, Speaker hails his initiative
Jammu: The Legislative Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution for the return of Kashmiri pandits to Kashmir, 27 years after they left the Valley. The Assembly also resolved to ensure the safe return of other communities, including Muslims and Sikhs, who left the Valley after armed militancy broke out.
As soon as the day’s work began with the question hour, former chief minister and leader of opposition Omar Abdullah stood up from his bench and urged the Speaker to pass the resolution for the return and rehabilitation of pandits.
He said, “It has now been 27 years that the Pandit community left the Valley. We call for a joint resolution from all the legislators for their return.”
Abdullah said that all legislators should work together to create a peaceful atmosphere for the pandits’ dignified return.
‘Will shoot militants, jail pro-freedom leaders’
BJP legislator Ravinder Raina said that his government “will shoot the militants (‘bhoon daalenge’) and jail the separatists if they dared to impede the dignified return of Kashmiri pandits to the Valley.”
“Besides Kashmiri pandits, people from other communities including Sikhs and Muslims who had migrated due to the turmoil in Kashmir, the government should pass a resolution for the return of all these people as well,” he said.
Abdullah received support from the Speaker and all members of the House, including PDP legislators.
Speaker Kavinder Gupta hailed the resolution moved by Abdullah and urged all the legislators to support the resolution.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri stood up from his bench and hailed Omar for calling for a joint resolution from all political parties. He said that the return of pandits to Kashmir was a humanitarian issue.
Engineer Rasheed struck a dissenting note, saying that instead of passing such resolutions, the government should take concrete steps for the safe return of pandits to the Valley. He also said that the government should include those people who were forced by the army to migrate.
Resolution does not matter. Those who want pandits back supported pro-freedom groups against setting up of pandit townships in Kashmir? If they are serious, will they run a campaign to convince people for the return of pandits?
—Sanjay Tickoo, president, Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti
Rasheed opposed the resolution moved by Abdullah, on the grounds that it did not include the rehabilitation of those forced by the army to migrate across the LOC in Keran, Karnah, Uri, Poonch and other parts of the state.
“The resolution is nothing but the practice of appeasing Kashmir pandits for their political gains. How many times have Abdullah and Mehbooba met the pandit community to take notice of their plight,” Rasheed asked.
BJP legislator Ravinder Raina while talking with media persons outside the assembly said that his government “will shoot the militants (‘bhoon daalenge’) and jail the separatists if they dared to impede the dignified return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley.”
BJP legislator Ravinder Raina said that the pandit community along with “nationalist” Muslims and Sikhs were killed and exiled at gunpoint by terrorists. “Today is the same day when mass exodus of pandits, the natives of the Valley, occurred and we are observing this as Holocaust Day, remembering our people who were killed. I support the resolution of Omar Abdullah,” he said. “It is a blot on our face that 5 lakh Pandits, 2 lakh Sikhs, and 50 thousand nationalist Muslims were exiled by militants and they are still wandering from pillar to post. We demand support from all political parties to solve this issue as for the past 27 years they are facing hardships. Their return should be dignified, not in an atmosphere of fear and threat,” he said.