His government a “bold step” in bringing a Billin the Assembly in 2009 for protecting their shrines
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday assured the migrant Kashmiri Pandits “all possible help” from his government and said a Bill to protect their shrines and temples would be discussed in the coming Budget session of the Assembly. But he made it clear that ultimately it was the community that had to take the call on returning to the Valley.
“You people are waiting for consensus. I have observed that there’s always little scope for consensus on such crucial matters and issues. I think you will have to go by the majority point of view,” Mr. Abdullah told the dislocated minority community at a reception in his honour at Patta-Bohri, on the outskirts of the winter capital.
His government would leave no stone unturned to ensure the safety and security of the community and its religious places. Mr. Abdullah said successive governments, particularly his in the last five years, had done enough for the welfare and rehabilitation of the displaced community, but the Kashmiri Pandits waited for the elusive consensus.
His government took the historic decision of granting out-of-turn government jobs to unemployed Pandit boys and girls to promote their interest and encourage them to return to the Valley. Around 1,500 youths from the community had taken these jobs under a special package and they were working and living in the Valley “safely and peacefully with their Muslim brethren.”
“But a beginning in this direction will be significant when the community decides holistically to return willingly and be a part of the society, just as they were prior to the migration,” he said.
Mr. Abdullah took a dig at the Bharatiya Janata Party, without naming it, and its efforts to bring succour to the displaced Kashmiri Pandits.
Some leaders were shuttling between Delhi and Jammu “playing politics, without sharing the grief and agony of the community,” he said at a seminar on “Kashmiri Pandits: Future of Generation Next,” organised by Youth All-India Kashmiri Samaj (YAIKS).
The community’s “genuine leadership” that lived with them as migrants and fought to ensure they got justice was their real well-wisher and friend. “Not those who have not experienced the sting and mental trauma the community has undergone, but come from outside the State to give them sermons without sharing their difficulties.”
Mr. Abdullah said his government had taken a “bold step” in bringing a Bill in the Assembly in 2009 for the protection of the shrines and temples of the Kashmiri Pandits.
“Notwithstanding the criticism from several quarters and some leaders’ letters to the Congress president, we pushed this legislation. It is currently with a select committee and I am hopeful it will be discussed in the next session of the Assembly.”
Views of different stake-holders, he said, had been sought and considered by the committee of legislators.