In a flip-flop, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Thursday told the Assembly that his government has no plans to set up separate clusters for settlement of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley.
"I want to assure the House that we will not make any separate clusters for Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley (for their rehabilitation)" Sayeed told the House which was rocked by opposition protests over the state government's move to create "composite townships" for Kashmiri Pandit migrants who had left the Valley in the wake of militancy over two decades back.
After a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi on Tuesday, it was officially stated that the chief minister had assured that the state government will acquire and provide land for creating composite townships for displaced Kashmiri Pandits.
Major opposition political parties and separatists groups in Jammu and Kashmir had slammed the move, saying it will divide the people and pose security risks.
Clarifying his government's stand, Sayeed said, "I have told the Union home minister that they (KPs) cannot live separately (in Kashmir Valley) and they will have to live together".
He maintained that Homeland is not possible in Kashmir and rumours are being floated to create controversies in the state.
Asserting that it is government's endeavour to create a conducive environment for the return of Kashmiri Pandits, he said if such controversies are created how can they come back.
"We do not want to do it in hurry. We will take all the stakeholders on board before taking a decision. We want flowering of secularism in Kashmir so that Kashmir becomes a garden of different varieties of flowers," he said.
The chief minister also appealed to separatists that they should not play politics over the issue as it gives a bad name to Kashmir.
Asking KPs to return to the Valley, he said the state government will create a conducive environment to settle them at their places with "respect and dignity".
"Those (KPs) who want to come back should not live in separation. There will be no Israel-type clusters and we welcome them to settle back in their places," he said.
As the House assembled this morning, Congress Legislative Party leader Nawang Rigzin Jora raised the issue of Kashmiri Pandits township and charged the PDP-BJP government of promising Centre 500 kanals of land in the Valley for it and demanded a response.
All the opposition members, including Congress, National Conference (NC), CPI(M) and Independent members Engineer Abdul Rashid and Hakeem Yaseen vehemently protested against the move.
Amid the din, CPI(M) member MY Tarigami said, "Chief minister is sitting here. Rumours are being spread to create controversy and disturb law and order over the issue of return of Kashmiri Pandits. It is a human issue. We all feel that they should come back to the Valley with respect and dignity but such steps (carving out separate townships) for them will create mistrust among the people in Kashmir".
Tarigami said that House should be taken into confidence and chief minister should clarify its stand over the issue. Intervening, Sayeed termed the reports as misconceived and totally incorrect and maintained that his government has no plans to set up separate clusters for displaced Kashmiri Pandits.
Sayeed denied that he had given any such assurance to the Centre.
NC member Ali Mohammad Sagar accused Sayeed of becoming a tool for BJP's agenda on Jammu and Kashmir.
Uproarious scenes were witnessed in the House with opposition members getting into heated arguments with BJP and PDP members.
Intervening the discussion, law and parliamentary affairs minister Basharat Bukhari said that chief minister has clarified his stand and now there is no need to make an issue and please allow the House to function.
Sayeed, while replying to the motion of thanks on governor's address in the state assembly last month, had said that he will construct Jagti-type flats for Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, a statement which had been criticised by NC working President and former chief minister Omar Abdullah.
Amid the raging controversy, the state government spokesman had come out with a statement yesterday, saying, "It's clear that KPs are a part and parcel of the traditional Kashmiri ethos and they would be reintegrated into their native place as a part of the society and not as an isolated community".
On the composite townships, the spokesperson claimed that it was meant for only those people of the community who have no land and properties left in Kashmir.
These people "can be accommodated in the composite township, if they desire so," the spokesperson had said.
"The society and the government is committed to facilitate reintegration of migrant pandits in their homeland with honour and dignity without compartmentalizing them as an isolated community," he said.