Only 17% houses for Kashmiri Pandits complete: Centre

March 19, 2022 09:34 pm | Updated March 20, 2022 10:51 am IST - New Delhi

Union Home Minister Amit Shah with J&K Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha and other dignitaries in Jammu on Saturday.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah with J&K Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha and other dignitaries in Jammu on Saturday. | Photo Credit: PTI

Union Home Minister Amit Shah reviewed the progress of rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants, including Kashmiri Pandits, during a meeting with Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha on Friday.

Mr. Shah was in Jammu to attend the 83rd Raising Day parade of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). 

According to the Union Home Ministry, only 17% of the proposed accommodation for Kashmiri Pandits has been completed in the past seven years.

The Union government, under the Prime Minister’s Development Package announced in 2015, had approved the creation of 3,000 government jobs for Kashmiri migrants in the former State of J&K. So far, 1,739 migrants have been appointed and 1,098 others selected for the jobs. 

A similar employment package for migrants was announced by the Manmohan Singh government in 2008 under which 2,905 jobs had been filled out of the 3,000 jobs approved.

Jammu and Kashmir became a Union Territory in August 2019 after its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution was read down by Parliament. 

In 2015, as many as 6,000 transit accommodation were also announced for the members who were to be provided jobs by the J&K administration at a cost of ₹920 crore. 

According to the Ministry data, till February this year, construction of only 1,025 units had been partially or fully completed while work at more than 50% units was yet to start.

A large number of Pandits were forced to leave the Kashmir Valley from 1990 onwards due to rising terrorist attacks and calls for violence against the community. According to the Home Ministry, several Kashmiri migrants reside at existing transit accommodation at Vessu (Kulgam), Mattan (Anantnag), Hawl (Pulwama), Natnusa (Kupwara), Sheikhpora(Budgam) and Veerwan( Baramulla) in the Kashmir Valley other than the camps in Jammu. 

On March 9, Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, in a letter to Priyanka Chaturvedi, Shiv Sena member in the Rajya Sabha, said, “It is expected that construction of all transit accommodation units will be completed by 2023.”

The Minister said that “the work on 1488 units is at different stages of completion. The tenders have been finalised in respect of 2,744 units and tendering processes in respect of remaining units have also been initiated.”

He added that in the initial phase, private land was to be acquired for construction but due to cost escalation and time overrun in the land acquisition process, the Government of J&K in 2019 decided to acquire State land with the aim to speed up the construction work. “All land for construction of transit accommodations now stands available with the Govt. of J&K,” the letter added. 

The Ministry informed a parliamentary panel that registered Kashmiri migrants receive dry ration and cash relief of ₹3,250 per person per month with the ceiling of ₹13,000 per family. 

In the case of Kashmiri migrants settled in Delhi, the Government of India and the Government of Delhi share the money given to the Pandit community. 

According to a 2020 parliamentary panel report, there are 64,827 registered migrant families in J&K — 60,489 Hindu families, 2,609 Muslim families and 1,729 Sikh families.

“Of the 64,827 families, 43,494 families are registered in Jammu, 19,338 in Delhi and 1,995 families are settled in other States and Union Territories. Of the 43,494 migrant families, 5,248 families are living in migrant camps,” the report said.

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