Data scientist who left Valley in 1990s says he warned LG of anger against Pandits over ‘dishonest’ property claims
SRINAGAR: The recent deadly attack on Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs in Kashmir has made everyone wonder why they were killed at a time when there is no communal rift in the valley. Satish Mandir, a Kashmiri Pandit who had left Kashmir in the 1990s with his five-member family, suggests it may be due to a government website.
Mandir, a 47-year-old data scientist, runs a company that employs 26 people in Delhi. He told Kashmir Reader that the genesis of the recent killings targeting minority communities in Kashmir lies in the JK Government’s initiative of making a web portal for Kashmiri Pandits to register their complaints of distress sales and encroachment of their properties.
This portal was created some weeks ago by the government. In the first three weeks of its launch, as per the government’s figures, nearly 700 complaints were registered, of which some 400 alleged alienation of property through fraud or distress sales, and nearly 150 alleged encroachments on migrant properties. Many of these complaints were verified and addressed, Mandir pointed out.
According to him, a Pandit who sold his property some twenty years ago can today claim that it was a sale made in distress. The rates of the properties, he said, have skyrocketed over these years. Mandir himself sold his property in Rainawari nearly ten years after he left Kashmir.
“We had 10 marlas of land at Wital Bagh, Motiyar, at Rainawari. We left in 1991, and ten years later, sold it in 2001. The reason was my late father’s health, who was suffering from brain tumour. We needed money for his treatment, so we sold it. No one forced us to sell it,” he said.
“Now today if I come back and ask the buyer family to return my property, how would they react? This will be dishonesty on my part. It would be absolutely wrong,” he added.
Mandir told Kashmir Reader that in case of encroachment of properties, Pandits have a right to fight against it. “But again, the question arises, how was that property allowed to be encroached on when the Deputy Commissioner and Divisional Commissioner are the custodians as per law? I know for a fact that the administration is itself the encroacher in most of the cases of Pandit properties,” Mandir said.
The web portal, he said, actually validates the fact that the government does not have data about Pandit properties in Kashmir. Through this portal, he said, the government seems to be collecting the data.
Mandir was just 16 when he left Kashmir to live in a rented accommodation in Jammu. His late father, who was a gold medallist at university, was AEE (Assistant Executive Engineer) in the Power Development Department. At the age of 49 his father qualified the Chartered Accountants exams, preparing for the exams all the while he lived in the rented accommodation. Today he lives in Dwarka in Delhi, in his own 3-BHK flat, and frequently visits Kashmir.
“When I heard about the incident of killings, I was reminded about the letter we had written to the J&K LG about the consequences of the web portal. But he did not pay any heed to it. Had that been the case, nothing would have happened,” Mandir said.
Mandir said the government must build residential colonies where Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs can live together, instead of colonies which divide communities.
“The ultimate aim of the killings is to make Pandits flee the valley. But the government must understand what triggered it. We have cordial relations with all communities in Kashmir. We hold nothing against each other. Muslims, Sikhs and Pandits are brothers. Dastgeer Sahab, Makhdoom Sahab will protect us from all evils,” he said.