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Homeland issue: The crucial missing part in this jigsaw puzzle is the Kashmiri Pandits themselves

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By Ishan Kukreti and Sarthak Kaul

While Delhi was sleeping its nonchalant Sunday sleep, things were abuzz at Jantar Mantar as protesters kept coming in supporting the call of ‘Chalo Dilli 5000 Plus Mission’ today.

The protest, some 3000 strong, was an effort by many organizations like, Panun Kashmir, Roots in Kashmir etc who have been demanding the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits.

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The protesters raised slogans like ‘Punan Kashmir’ (Our Kashmir), ‘Geelani ko phasi do’ (Hang Geelani) among others and burnt Pakistani flags to express their discontent and anger.

” If I change my name to Israt Jahan, then I think the government will listen to me,” said Vivek Fotedar, describing perfectly the mood of the protesters.

Apart from the all pervasive demand for ‘Homeland’, many echoed the concern over the absence of Kashmiri Pandit voice in the ongoing dialogue between the Centre and J&K state.

‘The crucial missing part in this jigsaw puzzle is the Kashmiri Pandits themselves. The government is talking about us, but they aren’t asking us. They should speak to us and every time a separatist sneezes, they should not catch cold. Mr Mufti promises composite towns one day and the next day he backs out. The government should not get scared by a hundred odd people and should stand still on a decision,’ one of the organizers, Rashneek Kher,  from Roots in Kashmir said.

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However, Tarak Fateh, a Pakistan-born Canadian writer, broadcaster and a secular and liberal activist, who was also present for the rally, felt that the community needs to form a coherent strategy first, ‘ You cannot dance and sing your way to Kashmir. The priority should be making a strategy, securing the border so that militants can’t enter India and create a scene similar to the 90s.’

Ashoke Pandit, filmmaker, who has been a prominent voice in the whole issue, feels the situation is turning like that in the 90s again, with stone pelting and slogans becoming every day occurrences. ‘Separatists like Yasin Malik are talking about composite culture now. But they are the ones who made us leave. They have killed us, they have raped us and now they are talking about composite culture? Why are these people not behind bars for waving Pakistani flags? every country has laws relating to sedition.’

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The passionate and optimistic gathering mostly contained middle aged men but a fair number of youth was also present. Michla Matharu, a young architect says it’s her right to go back as Kashmir is her birthplace. ‘ I have started my life from scratch once, if I can go back to my homeland,  I don’t mind doing it all over again.’

‘We are going to create a Gurgaon, a Greater Noida not a Ghetto. The idea is to create a modern city which will propel J&K as state into the future. We will go back and we will go back on our terms, not of Yasin Malik’s or Geelani’s.’ Kher adds.

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Kashmiri Pandits not Willing to Return to their Jobs in Kashmir Valley

The ongoing protests by Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu, are threatening mass resignations.

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Kashmiri Hindu Pandits
Kashmiri Pandits are not returning to their jobs. Wikimedia
  • The situation since last year is a clear indicator of rising threat in Kashmir as people are coming on the roads and pelting stones
  • After the government asked them to rejoin their duties in Kashmir valley, they are threatening mass resignations
  • Most of the Kashmiri Pandit employees left the valley last year only and now, 500 of them are refusing to return

Jammu, August 10, 2017: There were many Kashmiri Pandit employees who left the Kashmir valley last year after witnessing continual unrest following the encounter of terrorist Burhan Wani.

One of the residents, Sonia Bhat, who is a government teacher by profession, left the Kashmir valley last year (days after Burhan Wani got killed) and came to Jammu. She is a Kashmiri Pandit who returned to the Kashmir valley around seven years back, before which she migrated from the valley in the early 90s. Her reason for return was the government job she got, said that the cause of worry is the security concerns, apart from many problems they have to face on a day to day basis.

She said that the situation since last year is a clear indicator of rising threat in Kashmir as people are coming on the roads and pelting stones.  She feels that there is not a safe atmosphere to live in Kashmir.

ALSO READ:  Kashmiri Pandits Demand The Status of “Internally Displaced People”

Kashmiri Pandits have gathered in large numbers and are protesting in Jammu. After the government asked them to rejoin their duties in Kashmir valley, they are threatening mass resignations. Under the provision of Prime Minister’s special package for settling Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir- the government had given around 3,000 jobs to them in the valley.  But, most of the Kashmiri Pandit employees had no option but to leave the valley last year due to unrest and now, 500 of them are not willing to come back.

According to the NDTV report, RK Bhat, President Youth All India Kashmiri Samaj said, “The ongoing proxy war in Kashmir is against India and nationalist forces, why are you forcing us to go back to Kashmir in such an atmosphere?”

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The government assures that the Pandit employees can be moved to safe locations within the valley and things will be done to ensure their safety. But, they can’t give in to the demands of transferring them out of the valley. Thus, the government has given a 15-day ultimatum to Pandit employees to return to their duties.

Altaf Bukhari, Jammu and Kashmir Education Minister said, “There is no way that their jobs can continue while they remain outside Kashmir, they will have to come back, I do sympathize with them if they have any concern we will address it. We will keep them in and around Srinagar.”

– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


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Kashmiri Pandits Demand The Status of “Internally Displaced People”

Kashmiri Pandits want to ensure the preservation of their culture in the valley, as per the memorandum

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Kashmiri Hindu Foundation head, Deepak Ganju spoke in the Indian community event held in honour of PM Modi. VOA
  • The Kashmiri Hindu Foundation has passed a memorandum concerning the community of Kashmiri Pandits 
  • The Foundation has demanded that the Kashmiri Pandits be given the status of “internally displaced people”
  • The memorandum states several demands by the community to ensure preservation of their culture

Washington, June 25, 2017: The Kashmiri Hindu Foundation has passed a memorandum urging PM Modi to recognise Kashmiri Pandits as internally displaced people. They also wanted the government to ensure that the illegal occupants in the area be removed. The foundation also wanted an assurance that their property (left behind by them) will be protected.

In the memorandum submitted, the Foundation has said, “If Kashmiri Hindus lose their temples, houses and property, their ethnic cleansing will become permanent,”
The memorandum further stated,”Kashmiri Hindus should be recognised as internally displaced people and a declaration should be made to this effect. Implement a plan to ensure that property left behind by the refugees is preserved and protected and illegal occupants removed.”

ALSO READ: Dream of developed India will be fulfilled: PM Narendra Modi tells Indian diaspora

The foundation also wanted to ensure that the grievances of those Kashmiri Hindus will also be addressed who have signed the contract for the sale of property under any duress.

Deepak Ganju, the head of the foundation said, “Our places of worship have been burnt, vandalised and damaged. We strongly urge the government of India and the state government that our temples and cultural institutions in the Valley be secured, preserved and protected,”
Florida-based Deepak was here to attend the community event being held in the honour of PM Modi. She said that about 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits have been forced to leave Valley en-masse.

Ganju said, “About 1,200 killed and it goes on with just a few thousand remaining in the Valley.”

“Financial and state support for our socio-cultural- religious organisations, that we have managed to run even in our exile, is required urgently. State recognition should be given to Kashmiri Pandit writers, artists and social activists and grants should be provided for them to further their work. Centres need to be built for the preservation of thousands of years of our history, culture, tradition and works of art.”, the foundation demanded in the memorandum.

prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram. Twitter: @NikitaTayal6 

One response to “Kashmiri Pandits Demand The Status of “Internally Displaced People””

  1. This is a wake up call for Mr. Modi to address the problems of left over Kashmiri Pandits living as invisible refugees in their country. If the present government, like the previous govts.who ignored to address their little problems for last 27 long years, Nobody on this earth will address their problem. The Present govt. has forgotten their pre-poll promises like removal of 370,Rehabilation of invisible refugees Kashmiri Pandits. But at least, the Government can find ways and means for their survival till they are moved to Kashmir.

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Kashmiri Pandits should be given Minority Community Tag: NCM Chief Gairul Hasan Rizvi

The minority population of Kashmiri Pandits is between 4 lakh and 5 lakh in the country

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Kashmiri Hindu Pandits
Kashmiri Pandits are not returning to their jobs. Wikimedia

Jammu and Kashmir, June 15, 2017: According to the Minority Community status, National Commission Minorities (NCM) chairman Gairul Hasan Rizvi favored Kashmiri Pandits in the state on Tuesday and said he would take up the matter with the Centre.

The NCM is nonfunctional in Jammu & Kashmir according to the article 370, which grants Kashmir a status of the special autonomous state. Rizvi stated that it would enable the government to extend benefits to the Kashmiri Pandit, which hold a minority status in Kashmir.

Currently, there are six minority communities in the country, namely – Muslim, Jain, Christian, Sikh, and Parsi.

“Kashmiri Pandits should get the minority community tag, mainly because they are in minority in their state, Jammu and Kashmir,” said Rizvi concerning the issue.

Rizvi said he would take up the matter with Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and stakeholders involved.

The community members greeted Rizvi’s comment on the matter which was suppressed over the past 5 years. The members said they would take up the matter with the authorities again.

Manoj Bhan, the general secretary of Jammu and Kashmir Vichar Manch, said the organization and others would provide the authorities with the required documents in accordance with the Pandits minority community status.

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“We had raised the issue with the authorities two-three times (during UPA-II regime), but nothing happened then…We deserve the status,” Bhan said.

According to Bhan, the minority population in Kashmir is between 4 lakh and 5 lakh in the country.

Benefits availed by the Minority Community (Kashmiri Pandit) with accredited with minority tag are mentioned below:

  • Scholarship will be made available to students with family’s annual income below than Rs 4.5 lakh
  • Educational institutions managed by the community will be recognized as minority institutions. Up to 50 percent of the seats will be reserved for community students at such institutions

Some key welfare schemes the Centre implements for minority communities:

  • Scholarship schemes (pre-matric, post-matric and merit-cum-means)
  • Padho Pardesh (scheme of interest subsidy on educational loans for overseas studies for community students)
  • Free coaching and allied schemes
  • Skill training such as learn and earn, Nai Manzil
  • Prime Minister’s new 15-point program, which aims at ensuring an equitable share for minorities in economic activities besides their educational empowerment