Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq tells Toufiq Rashid they want Pandits to return to the Valley but not live barricaded. Excerpts:
Why are separatists opposing the return of Kashmiri Pandits?
Nobody is against their return. We have declared that they are part of us. Recently during the Friday sermons in Jama Masjid, I asked people to raise hands if they supported their return. The whole idea is they return and be part of society.
But again after 25 years you are creating the same impression that you don’t want them back.
No, what we are saying is that the way they are bringing them is politically motivated. It’s going to create polarisation. Imagine a situation: Pandits will come back, they will be kept separately, there will be barbed wires, there will be walls of hate.
But Pandits and the government argue that 90% of the people have sold off their properties so how do they return to their original places of living?
Let the government provide whatever package they want to help them purchase land. Let the government not huddle them in colonies. This is aimed at segregation. They are trying to widen the divide, we don’t want that.
But even the government is saying the colonies will be composite…
Let the government identify the land and give financial assistance. Let 50% of the land be reserved for Pandits and the remaining be for other communities.
Will these colonies become targets?
If something happens the blame will automatically come to the other side. Let Pandits come with honour and dignity. If they ask for separate colonies, it proves that Hindus and Muslims can’t live together. You are proving the two-nation theory right. BJP and RSS leadership is raking up the issue. We have nothing against Pandits. A Pandit household is my second home.