Kashmiri Pandits based in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have submitted a memorandum to visiting Defence Minister A.K. Antony, saying that India is making “a big mistake” by not creating political, economical and physical security space for the community in the Valley.
“The Central Government is making a big mistake by not creating political, economical and physical security space for Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley today,” Vijay K. Sazawal, international coordinator at Indo-American Kashmir Forum said in the memorandum, which was also submitted on behalf of various other overseas Kashmiri Pandit groups from Canada and Britain.
“Indeed, the manner in which the All Party Delegation (APD) ignored the rights of Pandits in the Valley was manifested by their refusal to meet with Kashmiri Pandits still living in the Valley. Repeated demands by the Valley- based community were ignored,” he said.
Mr. Sazawal said all meetings took place in Jammu, “reinforcing non—Valley identity” of Kashmiri Pandits.
“On the other hand, the APD did meet with the Sikh community in Srinagar,” he said in his letter yesterday.
”... Home Minister (P Chidambaram) announced an 8-point plan to address the unrest in the Valley that was approved by the CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security). While I hope that the Central Government succeeds in its goals, the fact is that by ignoring Kashmiri Pandits who are also constituents of the Valley, the plan falls short in its comprehensive goals, and therefore may not succeed,” the memorandum said.
Kashmiri Pandits are key to restoring “plurality and religious temperance” in the Valley, Mr. Sazawal said.
“Yet, no special effort is being made by the Government to assert that fact. In fact, the State Government has consistently made Pandit identity synonymous with Jammu—based constituents,” he alleged.
The memorandum thanked the Defence Minister for taking the “courageous stand” at the CCS where it was decided not to dilute any provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act without further assessment and discussions.
“India will pay a heavy price, if it continues to ignore the strategic asset that Kashmiri Pandits provide in strengthening India’s national identity and national security in Jammu and Kashmir,” the memorandum said.