Hizb-ul-Mujahideen has slammed doors on Pandits' return to their homes in the Kashmir Valley. Frightened of militancy, the Pandits had fled their homeland 17 years ago.
Hizb-ul-Mujahideen's supreme commander Syed Salaha-ud-Din has stated that, "time was not ripe for the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley."
"The return at this juncture would create complications," he told Srinagar-based news agency CNS on Monday. However, he did not elaborate the "complications".
Salaha-ud-Din's statement has virtually closed all doors for the Kashmiri Pandit community to their homes in the Valley, according to a leader of the community in Jammu.
Chairman of Panun Kashmir, Ajay Charngoo, told Hindustan Times that this made it clear that they did not want Kashmiri Pandits back in the Valley in any case. This also proved that the claims of the government that the situation has improved and the community can return to the Valley were "hollow".
"Terrorists are calling shots there," Charngoo said.
Many Kashmiri Pandits, however, are living in the hope of returning to their homes one day. Their last wish is to die there. But the situation in the Valley has not changed to make their return safe. And now the statement coming from the Hizb chief has only added to their fears.
Approximately, 350,000 Kashmiri Hindus -- a microscopic minority in Kashmir but an important component of the region’s history and ethos -- fled their homes in the Valley, starting November 1989. The winter of horror continues for them even now.
A series of select killings of their leaders, youth and intellectuals filled them with an immeasurable sense of fear. One after another killing of their community members added to their horrors. Their pleas for safety have gone unheeded. They are losing faith in the Government's ability to protect them. The first killing was of Neelkanth Ganjoo, the retired session judge, who had pronounced death sentence on Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder Maqbool Butt. And the government has been unable to do anything to win back their confidence.
First, they resorted to silent migration -- quietly leaving their homes as if they were going to spend the winter in the warm climes of Jammu. But after the killing of Director Doordarshan, Kashmir Lassa Kaul, in February 1990, they fled in hordes. Calls from mosques and posters appearing on the walls of their homes, asking them to "quit Kashmir" further worsened their fears.
That element of fear is still imprinted on their minds. For them, Kashmir Valley is the same place, which they had fled.
When they fled, many of them handed over keys of their houses to their Muslim neighbours -- a sign of their hope to return to their homes sooner than later.
Kashmiri militants and separatists have always attributed their mass exodus from the Valley to the "machinations of Jagmohan (then governor of Jammu and Kashmir)".
Salaha-ud-Din has repeated the same charge against Jagmohan in his latest interview. CNS quoted him as saying: "Kashmiri Pandits left Kashmir on the directives of Jagmohan. They have hurt the majority community by this act. Though I have deep respect for them but their return is now also a matter of faith. They haven't displayed it as yet, as they continue to work for the Indian agencies."
Reflecting on the Hizb chief's statement, Ajay Charngoo said, "Salaha-ud-Din has manifested the long-held stand of terrorist groups. They want to destroy the pluralistic character of Kashmir."
Charngoo said this was also "part of their designs to carry forward the agenda of jihad in which they want to keep all the non-Muslims out of the Valley and their other areas of influence."
Regarding Jagmohan's role, he said "This has been the old thesis of the terrorist groups, their leaders in the political spectrum, to justify what has happened there (in the Valley with Kashmiri Pandits)."