The recent development where Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and Council unanimously passed a resolution to ensure the rehabilitation of minority community Kashmiri Pandits to their ancestral land Kashmir valley is a talk of the town. This move has come for the first time in 27 years, where both the houses have passed a resolution urging all political parties to rise above their vested interest and create a conducive atmosphere for the safely return of Kashmiri Pandits.
Once the resolution was coined in the Assembly, many Kashmiri political stalwarts expressed their desire to see the return of Kashmiri Pandits. Parliamentary Affairs Minister and senior PDP leader Abdul Rehman Veeri said his Government has extended full support to the resolution, as these migrants (Kashmiri Pandits) were an inseparable part of Kashmir. Another voice came in support for the resolution was from J&K Education Minister Naeem Akhtar, who stated that Kashmir was facing an “ethic imbalance” as only one kind of community exist there. He goes on saying that migration was terrible event in the history of Kashmir, and the return of Kashmiri Pandits is the need of the hour, otherwise Kashmir civilization will come to an end.
Considering these many voices in favour of rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, the State Government said that they will start process of setting up transit camps for the Kashmiri displaced minority community.
Though the resolution looks very promising but it has come as a surprise that the person (National Conference supremo Omar Abdullah) who tabled the resolution, held the power for two consecutive terms, never felt a need to bring it during his tenure. Is the sudden change of tune by the National Conference has come at a time when the leadership crisis and existence of their political future is at stake?
The Pandits, who have been living in exile for 27 years, were never treated as an indigenous groups either by the ruling Government or the opposition party of Kashmir. Going by the stand of the National Conference and its supremo Omar Abdullah, who remained tongue-tied when the terrorist Burhan Wani was killed by the security forces which led to the widespread mayhem and crippled the Kashmir society in 2016, raises a question of safety and security of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley if there would be an atmosphere of religious persecution of minority community in Kashmir as it was the case in 1989-1990. Who will give the guarantee of the safety of the lives of Kashmiri Pandits when the very same National Conference has never acknowledged the role of local Kashmiris in ethnic cleansing of Pandits?
To add further to it, many separatists’ and some mainstream groups within the Kashmir valley have expressed their discomfort in providing an independent colonies to the Kashmiri Pandits. It is clear that they are going to be a big hurdle in letting State Government to establish exclusive colonies or transit camps for Kashmiri Pandits. Even if Kashmiri Pandits will return to the valley, in which hands their safety measures lies, is it State Government or separatists’ or opposition?
Union Minister in PMO with independent charge of North Eastern States, Dr Jitendra Singh has welcomed the resolution and urge the opposition party to implement it in the same spirit. He said the resolution should not be confined to letter only but it should be followed by the same spirit. Although he made it clear by highlighting the fact that earlier the rehabilitation drive with regard to developing separate colonies for Pandits was opposed by both National Conference and Congress.
Coming back to the resolution, it seems like a “headless chicken”, as the resolution is just a mere piece of paper, there is no detailed blue print about safety measures, land allocation, employment drive and proper residence structure for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits. State authorities have not divulged in details of bringing harmony between Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmir Pandits community. No roadmap has been designed in creating a hatred-free atmosphere and stress upon factors that can unite both the communities in every walk of life in the Kashmir valley.
It has to be understood that the scars of insurgency in 1989-90 has devastated Kashmir Pandits, and an exile of 27 years have broken, dented and scratched their souls deep down. They have lost all hopes and confidence in the locals and the State authorities. Once known as an integral part of Kashmir civilization, the plight of Pandits has remained unnoticed to a lager extent.
To make the foundation of the resolution, which has been passed under whatever circumstances, stronger, there is now the responsibility with the elected leaders to create conducive atmosphere in Kashmir for the return of Pandits. They can begin doing so by bringing in Shrines and Temples bill and pass it as a confidence building measure. This would be a right step. Secondly, they should go to the people and ensure their return without any hatred, anger or misappropriation. A visit in Kashmiri Pandits migrants’ camp would be an encouraging move from the perspective of making bonds stronger.
The modus operandi of safe and secure of rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits should also involve a largescale campaign on the streets of Kashmir sending a clear message to its people about peace, co-existence and trust between the two communities in the Valley. A dialogue involving civil society, administrators, political strata and authorities at highest level should be formed for designing the blue print of rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits with utmost dignity. By passing a resolution in the covered walls of Assembly is not enough to resolve the long standing Kashmir Pandits rehabilitation process.
Mere ‘Resolution’ is not enough