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Very few Pandits returning to Kashmir: Minority panel chief PDF Print E-mail
Written by Aditi Tandon   
Thursday, 06 September 2012 00:00

[New Delhi; Tribune News Service]: Urging Jammu and Kashmir to take action on the long-pending demand of setting up a state minority panel to inspire confidence among the minorities, the chief of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) today admitted that migrant Kashmiri Pandits were not returning to the Valley in the expected numbers.

“It is sad that Kashmiri Pandits are returning to the Valley in very small, virtually insignificant numbers. I recently attended a convention held to reward successful wards of Kashmiri Hindu migrants. When I asked the awardees why didn’t they return to Kashmir, they said they had no real desire left to go back. That’s very sad, a poor reflection on the state of affairs,” Wajahat Habibullah told The Tribune today.


Advocating a strong law in the country for the protection and rehabilitation of internally displaced persons, Habibullah said Jammu and Kashmir had for long been sitting on the law to create a state minority commission and re-categorise minorities as per the state population. Nationally (as per the National Commission for Minorities Act), there are five minorities --- Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians --- but the states can recategorise the minorities depending on the numbers. For instance, in J&K Muslims would be a majority and Hindus a minority.

“We have repeatedly impressed upon the state to set up the commission. The last we heard from them was that its draft law was ready. But that’s not enough. The Assembly must pass it,” said Habibullah.

Habibullah, also the former Chief Information Commissioner, said it was time India enacted a law for the protection of internally displaced persons.

“We need a law to deal with internally displaced persons, defining their rights and entitlements. Such a law should clarify that the government would be responsible for these persons till the time they are fully rehabilitated. Otherwise, we will keep having migrations of the order of Kashmir, Kandhamal, and Assam,” he said.

On Kashmir, the NCM chief mentioned that very few Kashmiri Pandits were returning to the Valley, that too silently. “There is no requirement for them to return with pomp and show considering that there are still elements back there that can threaten and attack them. We hope more than the state, the locals will offer protection to those who are returning,” Habibullah said.

The NCM has a list of 3,700 Kashmir Pandit families in the Valley. It is yet to compile the data of families that have returned. But sources say less than 10 per cent of the families have gone back in 21 years since they migrated due to militancy.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 September 2012 17:59


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