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Charter of Demands for Relief, Rehabilitation and Return of Kashmiri Pandits PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 03 June 2014 00:00

AIKS: All India Kashmir Samaj

1. White Paper on Exodus: Today, most people in the country are neither aware of the forced displacement of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir in 1989-90, nor are they aware of the circumstances that led to this displacement. As a matter of fact, the previous governments deliberately gave credence to the disinformation campaign launched by both the separatists as also by the main stream political parties of the state, in order to appease their vote banks. The biggest casualty of this policy was the truth behind our exodus. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the Central Government constitutes a Commission, headed by a serving/retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India, to probe into the circumstances that led to the ethnic cleansing of the entire Kashmiri Hindu religious minority, generally called Kashmiri Pandits the world over, from Kashmir in 1989-1990. The Commission must have the following terms of reference:-

(a) Fix responsibility for the same.

(b) Carry out thorough estimate of the moveable/immoveable assets left behind by fleeing Pandits/others, including the distress sale and its present status.

(c) Give concrete recommendations (having statutory backing) about steps to be taken, both at State level as also at the Union level, to ensure that a microscopic minority like Kashmiri Pandits, does not face similar situation in the Valley in future.

(d) Carry out assessment of damage suffered by religious places, pilgrimage centres, Matts, etc., belonging to Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, as also the encroachment/ illegal sale of land and estate belonging to these institutions by various people. The Commission must also recommend steps to be taken by the State Government to have these illegal occupations/sale vacated/ nullified.

(e) To give iron-clad statutory guarantees to Pandits which will allow them to live as equal citizens of the State with full freedom to practice its religion, follow its age-old socio-cultural traditions without fear or discrimination. It must also have the full liberty to administer its own religious institutions.

 

2 Satellite Township - The only justifiable module for our return is a “Satellite Township” where a concentrated settlement of KPs can take place. The Township should be self-sufficient in terms of security, infrastructure, economic avenues, decent housing, educational Institutions, health care facilities, recreation centers, commercial complexes, etc.

3. Creation of Centralized Fund: - Government of India should create a Centrally Monitored Fund which will cater to the needs of the exiled community. This should include provision of enhanced relief compensation, health care, scholarships to deserving/destitute students, Grants to entrepreneurs and members of the trading community hit hard by displacement, financial assistance to unemployed youth for setting up of small scale industrial units and for carrying out repairs and restitution of desecrated and damaged Temples and Shrines.

 

4. Employment Package: - The employment package announced earlier for the displaced unemployed persons of the exiled community needs a fresh look in view of the enormous hardships faced by our youth who had taken up employment in the Valley, as part of the Prime Minister’s package. Briefly, these concern the draconian pre-conditions laid down by the State Government and inhuman living conditions. To illustrate the institutional apathy existing at the state level towards the displaced community, it is to be appreciated that even after six years of announcement of the scheme by the former PM, only around 1400 out of 6000 youths have been recruited.

 

5. Establishing the Relief Commissioner’s Office at Delhi: - With a large number of displaced community members living in Delhi, NCR and other parts of the country, it is imperative to establish a permanent working office of J&K Relief Commissioner at Delhi, to cater to various official needs of the displaced community. These include:-

 

a) Issue of State Subject certificates to the wards of displaced KPs.

b) Simplifying the procedure for procuring voter ID cards.

c) Issue of Kashmiri Migrant certificates.

d) Updating voter lists.

6. Removing Encroachments:- The State Government must, at the earliest, evolve a mechanism to have the illegal occupation and encroachments of lands and properties belonging to displaced members vacated at the earliest.

 

7. Resettlement Package to Valley-Based KPs:-The minuscule community of KPs who, despite suffering enormous hardships, preferred to stay on in the Valley during the turbulent period of 1989-90 and beyond, have lived a miserable life under the fear of gun, ever since. AIKS is of the firm opinion that the amelioration of their social and economic condition is integral to the restitution of the community in its entirety. They must, therefore, be included in the Resettlement Package.

 

8. Grant of Minority Status and Political Empowerment:- In the light of experience gained since independence, it is quite clear that at the state level too, provision for providing Minority Status to a microscopic minority like the Kashmiri Pandits needs to be made. This is particularly so as far as the state of Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, as the State enjoys fairly large degree of legislative autonomy because of the powers it enjoys as a result of the applicability of Art 370 to it.

 

AIKS feels that merely being declared a minority will not help the community unless it enjoys political power, denied to them in the past. Since political empowerment is the bedrock of any democracy that wants to protect its minorities, KPs must get their rightful representation in the State legislatures and other representative institutions. Such provision will not only empower the community politically, but will also go a long way in allaying their genuine fears about their future well-being. It may be noted that due to the gerrymandering of cons some decades back, KPs were in no position to elect their own representatives. Therefore, reservations for them to send their representatives to the Legislative Assembly, is the only available safeguard on this account..

 

9. Displaced KPs be declared Internally Displaced People (IDPs):- AIKS is conscious of the fact that India does not recognize Internally Displaced People (IDP), as recognized by Article 3 and Additional Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions. However, time has come when India will have to recognize such people because of the necessity of providing relief and rehabilitation to huge number of displaced people in many parts of the country. Displaced Kashmiri Pandits fulfill all conditions for them to be declared as IDP. Once declared as such, they will be entitled to various forms of assistance that the UN mandates; something they have been unfairly deprived of for the past over two decades.

 

10.Temples and Shrines Bill:- After the exodus of the community from Kashmir in 1989-90, the temples, shrines, pilgrimage centres, Matts, etc., which represents our  age-old heritage, handed down through hundreds of years of continuing tradition, have suffered enormously due to desecration, neglect and poor management. What has added to their present sorry state is the wide spread encroachment of their lands and estates by unscrupulous elements, sometimes with official connivance. To protect and preserve these institutions of heritage, the draft bill (Temples and Shrines preservation) pending in the Legislative Assembly should be passed at the earliest after taking people of other regions of the State on board.

 

Meanwhile, AIKS urges the State Government to come out with the factual position regarding the state of lands and estates attached with our temples and shrines, as these existed in 1990 and now.

 

11. Consideration of Joint Parliamentary Committee Recommendations: – While framing the blueprint for the eventual return and rehabilitation of displaced Kashmiri Pandits, AIKS urges the Government to take into consideration the recommendations submitted by the Joint Parliamentary Committee, vide its report number 179.

 

12. Setting up of Implementation Committee: - In order to ensure effective and time-bound implementation of orders/directions issued from time to time by both the Central/State governments concerning issues related to the displaced KPs, AIKS proposes that an Implementation Committee, headed by MoS, be set up at the Union level, which could be either attached with the PMO or with the Home Ministers’ office. This must act as one-point contact for us to resolve our problems with the government.

 

Moti Kaul

President

 

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