A group of Kashmiri Pandits from Jammu converged in Srinagar on Tuesday to protest against 'partial implementation' of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's rehabilitation package announced in 2008.
The protesters, although few in number, gathered at Pratap Park in the city centre and raised slogans against the state government. They stated that 6,000 jobs -- part of the package -- were to be provided to the youth from their community but till date only 25% posts had been filled.
"The state and central governments were to equally share the burden for the jobs. Out of the 3,000 jobs funded by the Centre, only 1,442 posts have been filled and the list of appointees for the remaining posts is yet to be announced by recruitment board," said RK Bhat, president of Youth All India Kashmir Samaj.
Around 55,000 Pandit families left their ancestral homes some two decades ago to migrate to Jammu and other parts of India when a bloody insurgency broke out in Kashmir in 1989. While some made way to the national capital Delhi and other parts of the country, thousands of others continue to live in the state's winter capital, Jammu.
And it was not until 2007, when security situation started to improve, that they started to trickle back and take stock of their properties, raising hopes of their return.
Buoyed by this, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to the state in April 2008 announced a package for the rehabilitation of those who wished to return back to the valley.
The Pandit families who had to sell their property in distress and were desirous to return were to be given an amount of Rs 7,50,000 besides jobs to 6,000 youths.
However, even after four years of the announcement of the rehabilitation package, the government has not been able to convince the Pandits to return.
The state assembly was told last month that appointment orders in respect of 2,148 candidates have been issued but only 1,441 have joined services in the valley. The people who got jobs did not bring their families along.
The proposal of financial assistance for those intending to return and construct their houses is yet to take off.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah had some days back said that the issue of enhancing financial support to Kashmiri Pandits to enable them construct their residential houses in the valley is yet to be taken up with the Centre.
"A proposal will be discussed in the Cabinet in this regard and presented to the Government of India for release of funds," Abdullah said.
"They have not been able to provide their share of 3,000 jobs even after three-and-a-half years. Only when we come out on roads, they take some notice," Bhat said.