‘Hope to breathe in open air’, say Kashmiri Pandits after Article 370 revocation
Kashmiri Pandits on Monday welcomed the BJP-led government’s move to scrap Article 370, which granted special status to the state almost 70 years ago, “with open arms” and hoped it will help return peace to the region.
Union home minister Amit Shah announced earlier that the government has scrapped Article 370 of the Constitution, the provision that gave a measure of autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir including the right to make its own laws. The government listed four bills and legislative proposals before the Rajya Sabha to reorganise the state and its laws.
President of the All State Kashmiri Pandit Conference, which represents the displaced people, Ravinder Raina, said they “welcome the decision with open arms”.
“It is in the interest of the nation, which comes first. Now, we can also hope of breathing in the open air,” Raina said.
Several thousand Kashmiri Pandits fled the Valley for safety to places like Jammu and other Indian cities in the early 1990s after the start of militancy and the targeted killing of some members of their community. Many were killed and many others claim that their homes have been taken over by locals who coveted the properties.
Dr Ajay Chrangoo, the chairperson of frontal organisation of the internally-displaced Kashmiri Pandits Panun Kashmir, echoed Raina’s views.
“The BJP’s decision today is the first decisive step towards the dismantling of an Islamic state which was created under Article 370. We welcome its revocation and hope that a new era of everlasting peace is ushered in J-K,” Chrangoo said.
Several other Kashmiri Pandits, who left the Valley like hundreds of others, said the decision of the BJP government t revoke Article 370 has rekindled hopes for the nationalist people like him, he added.
“It’s a historic day for all the nationalist people. The special status of J-K was being misused by political parties for over seven decades,” AK Dhar, said.
“In 1989, we had witnessed hysteric and macabre nights when loudspeakers from mosques blared out threats asking us to flee Valley, convert to Islam or die,” Ashok Koul recalled.
PL Ticku, whose eldest son was killed by militants in south Kashmir’s Shopian in the early 1990s said: “the decision if implemented, will certainly save this state from further destruction”.
“My son will not come back. My wife could not bear the shock and she also left me. I had to leave behind my orchards, palatial house and other properties, which were illegally occupied. But this decision has given a ray of hope to the minorities in the state,” Ticku said.