Resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits: Pakistan Media Claims Pandits Do Not Want Separate Townships

The construction of segregated enclaves for the resettlement of Kashmir Pandits has little or no support from the region's local political parties, Muslim leaders and groups representing the Hindus who fled - Pakistan Media

Resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits is one of the burning topics for the persecuted minority community of Kashmir. India’s ruling party – the BJP will revive a plan to build what Pakistan calls – secured camps for the Resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley.

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Ram Madhav, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national general secretary responsible for Kashmir, the BJP was committed to helping bring back some of the estimated 200,000-300,000 Kashmiri Pandits who fled the Kashmir Valley in the aftermath of an armed revolt that began in 1989. Yes, the Pakistan media calls it an armed revolt and not the beginning of terrorism and persecution of minority community in the name of religion.

“Their fundamental rights of returning to the valley have to be respected. At the same time, we have to provide them proper security,” Madhav said in an interview”.

Pakistan media says that nearly 7 million people live in the Kashmir Valley, 97 per cent of them Muslim, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of Indian troops and armed police deployed to quell an uprising against Delhi’s rule. The media report claims that nearly 50,000 people have been killed in the conflict in the last three decades.

Madhav said that a previous BJP-backed government in Jammu and Kashmir state had considered building either separate or mixed resettlement townships, but had been unable to make headway. “No consensus could be built around any one view,” he said.

The media report says that the construction of segregated enclaves for the resettlement of Kashmir Pandits has little or no support from the region’s local political parties, Muslim leaders and groups representing the Hindus who fled. The media report from Pakistan surprisingly has access to top-secret data authenticated data which even the Indian government or leaders of Kashmir community themselves do not have.

India’s federal home ministry, which would be involved in any such building activity in the Kashmir Valley, did not respond to a request for comment.

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A blueprint unveiled by the state government for resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits in 2015 which had proposed self-contained, heavily guarded colonies for returning Pandits, complete with schools, shopping malls, hospitals and playgrounds. Separatist groups in the region had opposed the project, with some likening it to Israeli settlements within Palestinian territories according to the report by Pakistani media. The plan eventually stalled, particularly after the BJP’s alliance with a major regional party collapsed in June 2018, leading to the state coming under New Delhi’s direct rule.

The BJP is confident that it will win the upcoming state poll, Madhav said, adding that the resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits plan would be back in play. “I am sure when we come back to power, we will again take it up and try and see if a solution can be found,” he said.

Unlike the last time, the BJP isn’t looking to come to power through alliances, Madhav said, freeing itself of major regional parties that represent the region’s Muslims. The issue of Pandit resettlement in the Kashmir valley has long been on the agenda of the BJP, but appears to have received fresh impetus after the party’s second successive general election victory in May.

The Pakistan media report acknowledges that – After living side-by-side with Kashmiri Muslims for centuries, Kashmiri Pandits fled for safety after a sharp rise in killings and attacks by militants when the insurgency flared in 1989.

One of the largest migrations since India’s independence from Britain in 1947, many Kashmiri Pandits settled in refugee camps around Jammu. Only around 800 Pandit families now remain in the Kashmir Valley, according to some estimates.

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Resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits

But there is widespread opposition to any push for separate townships and resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits ranging from separatists to Kashmiri Pandit leaders claims the report.

Sanjay Tickoo, a Pandit community leader who has continued to live in Kashmir, said the idea of building exclusive settlements with enhanced security was an unrealistic solution that would invite a backlash.

“Is it possible to live in a caged manner, in a caged zone, with security?” he said. “I have to move out of that township, I have to work, I have to earn. I cannot get everything in that township.”

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference, the unified separatist movement in Kashmir, met some Kashmiri Pandits last month and found that there was a consensus against separate settlements, its chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said.

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“If you put them in separate colonies, in settlements and under barbed wire, that kills the whole purpose of trying to build, again, a community, which is based on mutual trust and respect,” Farooq, also considered the regions spiritual leader by many Kashmiri Muslims, said in an interview in Srinagar.

Leaders from the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party, the two main regional parties in Kashmir, said they supported the return of Hindus but were opposed to separate townships.

Originally Published By Dawn