Security agencies express reservations Print
Written by Special Correspondent   
Tuesday, 22 July 2014 00:00

[From The Kashmir Monitor]: Srinagar: The resettlement of migrant Kashmir Pandits back in the valley is reported to have hit a road after security agencies have expressed reservations over the plan. Reports say that security agencies have told the central government that the plan was not workable in present conditions and would also involve huge cost in terms of men and material to secure the proposed localities for Pandits. Security agencies are apprehensive that following complete withdrawal of America from Afghanistan by this year-end, there is every likelihood that militants could make their way into Kashmir. “In that scenario they (militants) could target Pandits”, government is reported to have been told.


Bringing Kashmiri Pandits back to the valley is dream project of incumbent Narendra Modi-led central government. Jammu and Kashmir government too has, of late shown, great interest in brining Pandits back. The state government last year sent a detailed plan for the return and rehabilitation of migrant Pandits. According to state government plan, the Pandits are to be settled in three cities to be raised at Hawal in Pulwama district, Khanpora in Baramullah and Vessu in Anantnag district besides in Kupwara. These cities are supposed to have built-in facilities like shopping malls, educational institutions, police stations, medical colleges, parks, recreation centres and other related facilities.


The central government however is reported to be in favor of settling Pandits in single huge city. Sources say that central government had, in this regard, asked state government to identify some 16800 kanals of land for this city. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced a special package of Rs.500crores in the budget recently. He has assured enhancement in the package if it was needed.

But the apprehensions from security agencies might, at least, put the plan at hold for the present. They have fears that Pandits could become the easy target of militants. According to security agencies working in the Valley such as Army, IB, RAW and BSF, about 211 to 431 terrorists/ militants belonging to various outfits are active in the Valley. They say that the number of militants could go up once American army leaves Afghanistan. Almost all the separatist political groups have publicly opposed rehabilitation of Pandits in separate colonies.


According to sources working on the plan, at the last count less than 6,000 families out of the total of 60,452 registered Kashmiri migrant families were willing to resettle in the Valley. But among them most families constituted of old people with young preferring to opt out. According to the fresh plan submitted by the state government, the proposed provision of housing has been increased from Rs7.5 lakh per family in 2008 to Rs20 lakh, while assistance to agriculturists and horticulturists has been increased from Rs1 lakh and Rs3 lakh to Rs3 lakh and Rs5 lakh respectively. Incidentally, only one family had availed the incentive of housing since 2008 while none opted for the assistance. The area and amount of the transit accommodation has also been increased from 240 sq. feet and Rs3 lakh to 515 sq feet and Rs8 lakh respectively.


To top it there is a new lucrative component of land acquisition worth Rs900 crore to allocate 1 Kanal land (605 square yards) to every family that returns. However, the J&K government wants to double the land acquisition amount to Rs1800 crore as the land prices have gone up in the Valley thereby escalating the overall cost of the resettlement project at least by Rs1,000 crore.