Jammu & Kashmir Assembly calls for ‘safe return’ of Pandits

Published - January 20, 2017 01:02 am IST - Srinagar:

The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution calling for the return of migrants, including Kashmiri Pandits, to the Valley.

Reading out the resolution, Speaker of the Assembly Kavinder Gupta said: “A conducive atmosphere should be created for the migrants’ safe return.”

The resolution was moved by former Chief Minister and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah. “It has been 27 years since people left the Valley. We should all come together so that Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs and even Muslims, who left Kashmir due to the turmoil, can be resettled and made to come back to their homes,” Mr. Abdullah said.

In his support to the resolution, ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader and minister Naeem Akhtar said, “Kashmiris need Pandits more than Pandits need Kashmiris. The absence of Pandits has created an ethnic imbalance. Pandits’ return is necessary to complete our civilisation and create an ethnic equilibrium. The migration remains a horrific part of our history,” Mr. Akhtar said.

Hundreds of Pandit families fled the Valley by January 1990, immediately after an armed uprising broke out in Kashmir in 1989.

Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Ravinder Raina called for strict action against militants and Hurriyat leaders. “The resolution has come as a moment of joy. If the Hurriyat opposes it [the return], they should be jailed and the militants should be killed,” Mr. Raina said.

Independent legislator Engineer Rashid, however, termed the resolution as “mere scoring of political points”.

“People left Kashmir on their own. If it was the fear of militancy, it is still there. We welcome Pandits to their original places and no settlements would be acceptable. Those who migrated due to the Partition should also be settled,” Mr. Rashid said.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the All State Kashmiri Pandit Conference (ASKPC) submitted a memorandum to Governor N.N. Vohra.

The memorandum sought the Governor’s intervention for “vacation of encroachments from Kashmiri Pandits’ lands especially in and around religious places, temples and shrines in the Valley”.

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