New package for rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in offing

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, June 8: Union Home Ministry has convened a high level meeting with top ranking State Government officials to discuss the revised rehabilitation package of Kashmiri migrants tomorrow at Union Capital.
According to highly placed sources, the meeting will be chaired by Union Home Secretary, Anil Goswami and the team of the State Government officers will be headed by Chief Secretary, Iqbal Khanday who will be assisted by senior officers in Revenue and Relief Department.
Sources said after finalization of revised package, the Union Home Ministry will submit it to Union Cabinet for approval. Under the revised package, the State Government had submitted a proposal to Union Government last year for sanction of Rs 20 lakh per migrant family for their rehabilitation in the Valley besides the allotment of land for construction of houses.
Sources said the revised package was duly approved by the Apex Committee on Kashmiri migrants and it was also discussed with the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Home Ministry on Rehabilitation of migrants last year.
Sources said keeping the security concerns of migrants in view, the State Government in the revised package had proposed construction of clusters at district headquarters in Valley for the settlement of migrants. However the construction will be made by migrants themselves through cooperative system, sources added.
Sources said the new package under consideration with Union Government will be more attractive than the one announced by the then Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh in April 2008 for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants.
That package included assistance of Rs 7.5 lakh per family for reconstruction for fully or partially damaged houses, assistance of Rs 2 lakh per family for dilapidated houses, assistance of Rs 7.5 lakh per family for purchase of a house in Group Housing Societies for those who have sold their properties during the period of turmoil in 1989.
Sources said the new Union Government led by Narendra Modi has kept the rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants and other refugees including PoJK and West Pakistan on its top agenda. Since State Government has till date failed to submit the draft package on West Pak and PoJK refugees to Centre for their one time settlement, the revised package for Kashmiri migrants was pending with Union Home Ministry for over a year now for its approval.
Sources said soon after taking over as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi had sought detailed information from Union Home Ministry about the steps taken by it regarding the rehabilitation of migrants.
Mr Modi issued directives to Union Home Ministry to work out a comprehensive plan for the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley and their rehabilitation as it was important policy matter of his Government.
Enhanced financial assistance, security to life and property, Government jobs and other employment opportunities and subsidised ration will be part of the package that could be announced as incentive for the return of Pandits, Government officials said.
“The discussions are at a very preliminary stage. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has been given a detailed presentation on the status of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits,” officials said.
It may be recalled that BJP election manifesto also mentioned that it was committed to ensure return of Kashmiri Pandits with full dignity. The number of displaced people post 1990 migration from the Valley following militant activities has increased by six-seven lakhs.
Like the previous one, returnee migrant families will be provided transit accommodation during the interim period when they undertake the reconstruction or repair of their houses.
Those returnee families, who may not be provided transit accommodation, would be given rental and incidental expenses.
All of them will be provided security if they feel insecure anywhere, officials said.
It may be recalled that Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah said he was looking forward to work with the NDA Government on return of displaced Kashmiri Pandit community to the Valley.
“I look forward to working with the new Government as they unveil their plans for the honourable return of the displaced Pandit community,” Omar had tweeted.
While extending his good wishes to the people of Jammu and Kashmir on the occasion of Khir Bhawani festival, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh has said that the country was committed to the “dignified” return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here