|The spot demanded by Kashmiri Pandits as homeland|
A deep rift appears to have occurred between the BJP-backed Mehbooba Mufti government of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and Kashmiri Pandits. Panun Kashmir, the top organization representing internally displaced Pandits, has described the J&K government decision to offer them 100 acres land only an effort to “rub salt on the Hindu wound.”
Offered across 10 districts of Kashmir Valley, the announcement came close on the heels of the Government of India approving the construction of 6,000 transit accommodations in the Kashmir Valley for Kashmiri Hindu refugees.
Making the decision public, Minister of Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Basharat Ahmad Bukhari, told the J&K state assembly, which met in Jammu, that land for the construction of transit accommodations in the Kashmir Valley Valley has already been identified “with the tentative cost of land being Rs 374.65 crore.”
Rejecting the offer, Panun Kashmir leaders in a statement, signed by Agnishekhar, one of the leaders, said, “We are the original inhabitants of Kashmir. Kashmir belongs to us. We represent the nation in Kashmir. We will not return to Kashmir to live in ghettos. We will not return to our original homes because we can’t co-exist with those who expelled us.”
In addition, he said, the “homeland with Kashmir North and East of River Jhelum is our motto and we will not deviate from our path”. Significantly, Kashmiri Pandits are the main electoral support base of the BJP in the Jammu region of J&K.
Another leader, Ajay Chrungoo, said, “The Government’s announcement has only rubbed salt on the Hindu wound... We will go back to Kashmir the day our main demand of separate homeland is accepted.”
Panun Kashmir has been quoted by a top Kashmiri Pandit intellectual, Hari Om Mahajan, former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Jammu, as saying that the decision the state assembly resolution, which allowed handing over the land to the J&K government, was passed “only to hoodwink the Kashmiri Hindus and mislead the international community.”
Referring to former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah, who had moved the resolution, the statement said, “It is strange that those who created a situation that forced our community to quit Kashmir are today passing a resolution on the need to create conducive atmosphere so that the Hindus could return to Kashmir.”
“They are just hypocrites”, it insisted, adding, “They opposed even the creation of a Pandit colony in Kashmir, saying their return would change the Kashmir’s demography. We reject outright their attempt to mislead and hoodwink the national and international opinion.”
Agnishekhar and Chrungoo have also been quoted as declaring, “We are not migrants. We didn’t come to Jammu and went to other places in the country in 1990 on our own to obtain jobs. We were forced to quit our homes as we were committed Indians and committed Hindus and as we rejected the separatists’ diktats that they should join anti-India movement and work for the Kashmir’s separation from India.”
Comments Mahajan, “One just can’t ignore what the Panun Kashmir leaders have said considering the fact that Kashmir is now 100 per cent Muslim, and radicalised. The powers-that-be in J&K and at the Centre would do well to take cognisance of their aspirations, fears and compulsions so that they return to Kashmir they miss very much.”
He, a Hindutva theorist, insisted, “Remember, Kashmir was 100 per cent Hindu till 1339, when Shah Mir usurped the land of Kasyap Rishi through deceit, oppression and persecution.”