It’s only four years ago that the Kashmiri Pandits, who had been living in tents in the outskirts of Jammu since 1990, got some place to call home.
It’s only a 350-sq-ft flat — a bedroom and a living room — though for each family.
“It took 20 years for the government to give us this flat. It shows their sensitivity. I was 27 when I left home. And for the next two decades, I considered only a tent as my home,” said Ashok Kumar Pandita.Pandita, a resident of Maidan Pora at Lolab in Kupwara district — one of the places in the Valley worst hit by terrorism — left home in April 1990 along with 60 other families. And like thousand others, who were not financially well off, he stayed in a tent for 20 years. Later, he graduated to a one-room tin-roofed tenement.
The Central government built 4,218 flats, called the Jagti township, to house about 20,000 people. It was inaugurated by then PM Manmohan Singh in March 2011. But, meanwhile, a new generation had come up — for whom the Valley is a distant dream. And it’s time for them to leave home again.
The reason: Nancy Bhat, a Jagti resident said, “My two sons are working in Delhi. How will they settle in this one-room flat after their marriage? Had there been at least two or three bedrooms, we could have stayed as a family. Now, another separation is looming.” said Nancy Bhat.
Even the cash assistance that the Modi government is paying to each family has failed to enthuse the Pandits.
“We have not been in state government jobs. The Rs 6,600 is like a cruel joke. The successive state governments didn’t show any concern for us. Is this what we deserve? said Shamji Raina, a Jagti resident who came from Anantnag.