Noted theater and film personality Anupam Kher on Tuesday said the Narendra Modi government at the Centre should come up with country’s first Smart City in Kashmir for the Kashmiri Pandits who have been living a life of ‘refugees in their own country’ for the last 26 years.
Kher, spearheading the movement for return of Kashmiri Pandits to the valley, also blasted former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah for his comment that “nobody is going to come with a begging bowl and say ‘come and stay with us’ , they have to make the move.”
“Today was the day mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits had started in 1989 and hence it would be an appropriate day for Farooq Abudllah to apologize to the nation for such insensitive and unfortunate comments,” Kher told HT here at the Keenan Stadium on Tuesday.
Kher was here for shooting of director Prabhat Battacharya’s film ‘Kanhu.’
“At a personal level, I respect Farooq sahib much but if he has made this comment, it’s very insensitive and unfortunate. Where’s the question of begging? We didn’t leave but were driven out of Kashmir — our ancestral home. We are not demanding anything but what we’ve been forcibly deprived of. The slaughter, rapes, butchery started in 1989 backed by Pakistani terrorists,” said Kher recalling cherished childhood memories.
The veteran actor-director said the Modi government should build nation’s first Smart City in Kashmir for Kashmiri Pandits separately in a colony. “Let people reside there for 10 years and have the trust back. Then bring rest of the Indians there. A permanent solution, however, is removing Article 370,” added Kher.
Kher, however, minced no words in saying that they were not happy over steps so far taken by the Central government for rehabilitating Kashmiri Pandits back into Kashmir. “My information is they are working out jobs at multiple level companies and government departments. I would like to give them 2-3 years for working out concrete measures and take a stand after five years,” said Kher.
“Political parties seldom take interest in the plight if Kashmiri Pandits because they have no benefit of votes. Politicians lined up for Dadri, which was again an unfortunate incident, but none have ever visited our refugee camps, including Delhi CM or Rahul Gandhi. The suicide of a dalit youth in Hyderabad is an equally unfortunate incident and people are out to politicise it.”
Kher said the problem was ‘selective outrage’ and said the season of award wapsi stopped immediately after
“Lakhs walked out on the streets of Malda in West Bengal terrorising the Hindus. But there’s no outrage or award wapsi. Situation in Bengal now reminds me of our plight in Kashmir,” said Kher.