J&K separatists offer to hold talks with Pandits

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti offered prayers at the Kheer Bhawani temple in Srinagar recently. Photo: Nissar Ahmad   | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD

Kashmiri separatist groups on Friday offered to hold a dialogue with Pandits to find “ways and means” to help the displaced community return to the Valley.

“A joint committee that includes all pro-freedom groups will be formed. Initially, talks will be held after Eid with those who stayed back. Thereafter, those who left the Valley will be contacted,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, told The Hindu.

Hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, too, backed the return of the Pandits.

“We are for their return to their original place so that they can live with other communities,” he said.

Mr. Geelani opposed separate colonies that are reportedly being planned for them.

“Jammu and Kashmir in one voice is opposing the construction of separate Pandit colonies, but [Chief Minister] Mehbooba Mufti is rigid on their creation. She has no respect for public opinion.”

This is the first time since the mass migration of Kashmiri Pandits in the 1990s that separatists, including factions of the Hurriyat and the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, are addressing the issue.

This comes in the backdrop of the proposed ‘composite’ and ‘transit’ colonies, being opposed by all the separatist groups.

As a mark of protest, separatists organised demonstrations in several parts of the Valley on Friday. Violent clashes were reported from Anantnag town and old Srinagar.

The Mirwaiz said while his faction “opposes ghettos for Pandits,” he, along with other separatist leaders, would listen to the concerns of the Pandits and give them an assurance to help them return.

“Let the government give them money and start purchasing land at the places of their choice, preferably in their native places,” Mr. Farooq said.

“The recent bonhomie during the Kheer Bhawani Mela in Tulmul and other Hindu religious gatherings in Ganderbal reflected the feeling among Muslims,” the Mirwaiz said.

Slamming the State government’s proposal for Sainik Colonies and the new industrial policy, the Mirwaiz said, “It is aimed at changing the demographic character as well as the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir.”

He claimed that the real agenda of the State government, “being run from Nagpur”, is to facilitate the entry of non-state subjects into the State.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 4:01:42 PM |

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