Official statistics show that there are nearly 60,000 registered Kashmiri migrant families in the country.
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Thursday passed a resolution seeking the return of the displaced Kashmiri pandits and members of other four communities who were uprooted in the aftermath of the insurgency that erupted in the Valley in 1989-90.
The resolution was moved in the House, now holding its Budget Session in Jammu, the winter capital, by former chief minister and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah, who said: “Besides pandits, people from other communities, including Sikhs, who also migrated from the Valley due to the turmoil, should return. This House should pass a resolution so that all those people return to Kashmir.” Speaker Kavendra Gupta agreed, but said that a conducive atmosphere should be created for their “safe return”.
Responding to Mr Abdullah’s demand, public works and parliamentary affairs minister Abdur Rehman Veeri said: “They (Kashmiri pandits and others) are our part and bringing them back is what keeps our conscience alive. We accept the need to bring our people who left back and thus a resolution is being passed here.”
The majority of the Valley’s minority Hindu Brahmins called pandits fled their homes after Kashmir’s Muslim youth turned to the gun and the demand for “aazadi” burst into a major violence towards the end of 1989. Some families of Sikhs and Muslims also migrated from the Valley. Official statistics show that there are nearly 60,000 registered Kashmiri migrant families in the country. Of these, 38,119 are residing in Jammu, 19,338 are living in Delhi while 1,995 other families are settled in other states.
Sanjay K. Tickoo, president of Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS), which represents a few thousand pandits who stayed put when a majority of the community fled the Valley in 1990, disputes these figures. He says as many as 75,343 families (367,289 persons) had opted for migration from the state.
Mr Abdullah said: “Today it has been 27 years since they (Kashmiri pandits and some Sikh and Muslim families) left the Valley. We should rise above politics and pass a resolution in the House for their comeback.”
Independent MLA and leader of the regional Awami Itehad Party Sheikh Abdur Rashid, however, accused Mr Abdullah of trying to appease the pandits. While opposing the resolution, he said since no Kashmiri (Muslim) was opposed to the return of the pandits, there was no need to pass such a resolution, and that if Mr Abdullah or chief minister Mehbooba Mufti were really so concerned about the return of migrants, they should also speak about the thousands of families “forced” to migrate to other side of the Line of Control from Keran, Karnah, Uri, Poonch, Gurez and other border areas to escape the security forces’ “atrocities”.
State education minister and government spokesman Naeem Akhter said Kashmiri Muslims needed pandits more than the pandits need Kashmiri Muslims. “There is an ethnic imbalance in a place where only one type of people live. Migration was a horrific part in our history,” he told reporters outside the House.