First time in 27 years: LA calls for return of KPs to Kashmir

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Jan 19: For the first time, the Legislative Assembly today unanimously adopted a Resolution calling for return of all Kashmiri migrants especially the Kashmiri Pandits back to their homes and hearths after living in exile for 27 years and favoured creating conducive conditions for their safety.
Ever since January 1990 when the Kashmiri  Pandits had en mass migrated from the Kashmir valley and took shelter in Jammu, New Delhi and other States following break-out of militancy, this is the first time that the Legislative Assembly has adopted a Resolution calling for creating conducive conditions for return of Kashmiri Pandits back to their homes in the Valley though such appeals by the political parties and other organizations had been a routine.
Significantly, all major political parties having representation in the Assembly including Ruling and Opposition supported the Resolution, which was adopted on the day when Kashmiri Pandits had left their homes in the Valley in 1990 following outbreak of Pakistan-sponsored militancy in which many Kashmiri Pandits were killed.
The Resolution read by Legislative Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta in the Assembly said: “all the political parties should put in all out efforts at their disposal for creating a conducive atmosphere for the safe return of all the migrants especially Kashmiri Pandits, who had to migrate from Kashmir valley to other parts of the country under difficult circumstances”.
As soon as the Assembly started its proceeding, National Conference Legislature Party (NCLP) leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said it was on this day 27 years back that the Kashmiri  Pandits had to leave their homes in the Valley. They were followed by many others including Sikhs and Muslims, he added.
Omar proposed that the House should adopt a Resolution, keeping above the party and political interests to create conducive conditions for all those, who have left their homes and hearths, for their return to the Kashmir valley.
Immediately reacting to the proposal, the Speaker described it as good and said it was responsibility of all political parties to create condition for safe return of the Kashmiri Pandits to their homes in Kashmir.
Independent MLA from Langate, Engineer Rashid opposed the Resolution and passed some remarks. BJP MLAs including Sat Sharma ‘CA’, Ravinder Raina and Gagan Bhagat among others were on their feet and had heated exchanges with Engineer Rashid, which continued for couple of minutes with both sides shouting at each other.
Later after the end of Question Hour, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri proposed that the Resolution should be adopted.
The Speaker moved the Resolution, which was unanimously endorsed by all political parties in the House calling for creating conducive conditions for safe return of Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants for their return to the Kashmir valley. All political parties including PDP, BJP, NC, Congress and Independents supported the Resolution. Engineer Rashid was the lone voice of dissent.
Rashid again protested against the Resolution, leading to heated exchanges with the BJP members.
Later, speaking to reporters, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh said it was good that there has been unanimity among all major political parties on creation of conditions for safe return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Kashmir valley.
BJP president Sat Sharma ‘CA’  said the BJP stand committed to honourable and safe return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley. However, for this conditions have to be created by the Government.
Another BJP MLA Ravinder Raina said there should be no forced return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley.
“Whenever the Kashmiri Pandits fell that atmosphere was now conducive for their safe and honourable return to the Valley, only then they should return to their houses,” Raina said.
However, Engineer Rashid said there had been no holocaust of Kashmiri Pandits but Muslims. He said 80,000 Muslims have been killed in the Valley. He charged that New Delhi was using the Kashmiri Pandits for fulfilling their agenda in the Valley.
Welcoming the “unanimous move,” Education Minister and Government spokesman Naeem Akhtar said, Kashmiri Pandits have “full rights” on the Kashmir and the Government will go ahead with the proposal of setting up of transit camps for the community in the Valley.
“It is a very good initiative which has gone from the entire house which means that our political system wants that Pandits should return,” he said outside the state Assembly.
“A road map is already there that first they (KPs) will come to the transit camps where they can feel secure … They will spend a year or two (in transmit camps) after that wherever they want they can construct a house.”
“Like I have the right on Kashmir they too have their rights. They are equal stakeholders in Kashmir …We need them more than they need us,” he said.
On the opposition by separatists for setting up the transit camps, Akhtar said, “It is an ongoing dialogue … But I don’t think the common Kashmiri is with them”.
Separatists and some mainstream groups are opposing setting up of transit accommodation for Kashmiri Pandits as part of their return to the Valley from which they were forced out in 1990.
Akhtar said in the present situation Kashmir needed Pandits more as exclusiveness anywhere in the world has led to turmoil.
“…You have seen in the world where there is discord, war or turmoil, multicultural, multi-ethnic societies have vanished.
“When you want to bring only one kind of people then they fight among themselves like (we have) seen in the Middle East, wherever there is exclusiveness there is turmoil,” he said.
“Until and unless we bring back our culture of inclusiveness, till then our problems would not be solved,” he stressed.