Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday expressed his opposition to state and central governments' plans for building "composite townships" for Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) saying no one will support "ghettoisation" in segregated and "inherently unsafe camps" in the Kashmir Valley.
In a series of tweets, Omar made it clear that "no right-minded Kashmiri will oppose the return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homes in the Valley." But at the same time, "no right-minded Kashmiri will support the ghettoisation of Kashmiri Pandits, housed in segregated inherently unsafe camps in the Valley."
He expressed doubts if many Pandits will like the idea of separate townships. "I very much doubt very many Kashmiri Pandits would like to return to the Valley just to be housed in ghettos, segregated and isolated," Omar, who is the working president of main opposition National Conference, tweeted.
He said his party will do everything possible to support the return of Pandits to the Valley "in keeping with our composite culture and Kashmiriyat."
Another NC leader Ali Mohammad Sagar, too, opposing the move, said, "KPs are part and parcel of the Kashmir. The NC too tried for their return but they should return to their original homes and not in separate colonies. The KPs should come and move all over the Valley and their places of worship, like they had been doing before leaving. But it's not acceptable that they live in gated colony and move out with a security guard."
Meanwhile, Independent MLA Engineer Rashid opposed the composite townships issue in the assembly, saying, "Settling KPs in separate townships will not be allowed, as it could create Palestine-like situation. It will further divide the Hindus and the Muslims. If the government says that militancy has gone down, peace has returned and people are voting in large numbers then where is the need for the separate townships."
Engineer Rashid has been demanding a resolution to bring back mortal remains of Parliament convict Afzal Guru buried inside the Tihar Jail in New Delhi.
"The fact is majority of the KPs are not interested in their return. They are enjoying perks, packages and privileges. The return is another excuse to get financial package. However, chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is unfortunately acting as a facilitator of BJP's plan to communalise and polarise the situation," said Rashid.
A total of 37,128 KP families are registered as migrants in Jammu and other parts of the country. The state had sent a proposal of Rs 1,618 crore to the Centre for their return and rehabilitation, but because of the poor response to return, it didn't materialise.
Meanwhile, chairman Panun Kashmir Ajay Charungoo said, "The fact is that political establishment in Kashmir is opposed to the return of the KPs. They will oppose it on any pretext."