Mehbooba offers transit houses for Kashmiri Pandits

  • Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: May 29, 2016 02:05 IST
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti speaks at the state legislature building in Srinagar. (AFP Photo)

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday said the PDP-BJP government was committed to bringing Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants back to the Valley.

“Kashmiri Pandits will come back and live happily here, and so will other migrants. This is our commitment,’’ Mehbooba said. The government will set up “transit accommodations for Pandits until they feel secure enough to return to their original places of residence”, she added.

“They have been out of the state for the last 25 years, and some of them don’t even remember their own addresses. So, how would it be possible for them to feel safe enough to return to their original homes?” the chief minister asked.

Mehbooba said even the construction of transit accommodation was part of the recommendations made by the Prime Minister’s Working Group formed in 2005, and the beneficiaries would include migrant Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs.

The colonies would be composite in nature, she said, with 50% reserved for Kashmiri Pandits and the rest for other communities. However, there was some ambiguity on whether the colonies would be exclusively for migrants – including Pandits – or open to everybody.

“Don’t we have Muslim migrants? Don’t we have migrants in Jammu? Aren’t there Sikhs and other people living among them? If we are saying 50 per cent will be Kashmiri Pandits and the rest others, you (the Opposition and separatists) are saying it is an Israel-like situation,” she said.

The chief minister drew a comparison between the condition of the Pandits and political workers who have left their native places out of fear. “How can you ask the migrants to return to their native places when our political workers – be it from the PDP, Congress, National Conference or any other party – are living under security? You have even provided them with public safety officers,” Mehbooba said.

Mehbooba maintained that all political parties, whether mainstream or separatist, were on the same page regarding the return of Pandits. The community will help fill the gaps in various fields of everyday life, she added.

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