NATIONAL

J&K rehabilitation project for Pandits

JAMMU SEPT. 6. To prevent further migration of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley, the Jammu and Kashmir Government has formulated a comprehensive project for their rehabilitation. This includes two-room tenements (TRT) with all basic facilities for the families at their respective district headquarters.

According to estimates there are currently 9,000 Pandit families in the Valley. They did not migrate when a majority of the Pandits shifted during the time of the then Governor, Jagmohan Malhotra, in the early 1990s to Jammu and other parts of the country.

The project comes in the wake of increasing pressure on the Mufti Government to fulfil its promises to the Pandits. The State Government plans suffered a setback after the Nadimarg massacre in which 24 Pandits were shot dead by militants in March this year.

Official sources said that after the Nadimarg massacre, specific instructions were passed to the Revenue Ministry to take steps for their security in the Valley and prevent their migration.

Talking to The Hindu, the State Revenue Minister, Hakim Yasin, said: "We would take all steps to restore confidence among the Pandits, who are presently staying in the Valley. They are our priority."

To give a practical shape to the proposal, the State Government decided to first improve the security of the Pandit families in the Valley.

The State Minister for Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation, Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen, recently convened a meeting to discuss various aspects of the project in which all the Deputy Commissioners of the Valley districts were present.

Spelling out details, Mr. Yaseen said that in the first phase, 300 TRTs would be constructed in Sheikhpora village of Budgam district for the families.

For this purpose, Rs. 2.5 crores had been earmarked, while Rs. 1 crore each will be provided to other districts under the project.

He directed all the Deputy Commissioners, excluding Budgam where the process has already been started, to submit the rehabilitation projects of the respective districts to the Government within a week.

The Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, was asked to identify some clusters in Jawahar Nagar, Karan Nagar, Indira Nagar and Balgarden areas for rehabilitating migrants.

The Revenue Minister said the Government would provide free rations for one year to those non-employed Pandit families, who are to be rehabilitated under the programme.

Meanwhile, a European Union delegation visited the migrant camp at Muthi, Jammu. It comprised Ambassadors of the European Commission, the Ambassador of Italy, the Ambassador of Ireland, first Counsellor in the Embassy of Italy and the Deputy Chief of the Embassy of Netherlands.

While expressing sympathies with the displaced community at Muthi, the European Union envoys said the basic aim of visiting the State was to get first-hand knowledge of the situation.

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