While the new land laws have made many sceptical about Central Government’s move in taking away the already available safeguard to locals in respect to land and jobs in J&K, the UT administration has been unable to satisfy many about the decision including Kashmiri Pandits, most of whom feel that the long pending issue of their return and rehabilitation in the Valley shall be addressed first by the Centre before the new land laws are brought into effect .
However, it is ironical that the government does not seem to have plans to give land to its own beleaguered citizens, the Kashmiri Migrants, who have been forced to live outside the Valley since the eruption of terrorism in the Valley three decades ago, as successives governments at the Centre and in the erstwhile State failed to protect them against terror.
Had the then governments acted strongly against terror in its very beginning, since the advent of terrorism in the valley in late 1980’s, over five lakh Kashmiri Pandits and many others would not have been forced to become refuges in their own country. Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants are the victims of democide which led to genocide.
It is, therefore, the obligation of the Central and the State governments to rehabilitate Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants back in Kashmir Valley. They have been forced to live in exile for past 31 years for being patriotic.
Prime Minister and Home Minister have brought the CAA (Citizen Amendment Act) to rehabilitate refugees from neighbouring countries, but they have not yet rehabilitated those who are refugees in their own country. To ensure their rehabilitation, the Government of India shall immediately ban the sale and purchase of land within Kashmir until Kashmiri Pandits are rehabilitated there.
Even the BJP has no plans for the return of Return & Rehabilitation of KPs. Rather it seems that it is more interested in rotating and moving in and out non-migrant KPs into the government jobs, put them in government quarters and send them back to Jammu after retirement. In the process, it is making them sacrificial lambs to appease someone by delaying their return and rehabilitation on one side and rewriting land laws on the other hand.
As a mark of protest against the government’s apathy towards the rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants in the valley, the latter are forced to look for other political solutions too. Following an invitation, a delegation of migrant Kashmiri Pandits met People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration in Jammu on Saturday as political engagement requires dialogue.
With a history of 5,000 years, Kashmiri Pandits’ culture and language are deep rooted in Kashmir and if they are not rehabilitated now, all this will vanish like a tree without roots. They have been struggling for 31 years for justice and now is the time to rehabilitate them in Kashmir.
For this, the government shall make a provision in the J&K Budget for return and rehabilitation of five lakh Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley and allocate one per cent of it for the purpose.
The Central government and all the political parties shall commit to reserve atleast three assembly constituencies for Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley and the new land laws be kept in abeyance until the return and rehabilitation of migrant community in the Valley.
(The author is a Kashmiri Pandit leader and chairman of a Kashmiri Pandits organisation – Reconciliation, Return and Rehabilitation of Migrants.)