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Kashmiri Muslims want Pandits back

By News Agency of Kashmir

Jammu: Roots in Kashmir (RIK) an initiative by a group of Kashmiri Pandit youth today said that 85 percent of Kashmiri Muslims want Kashmii Pandits to return back to valley.

The RIK group, which is on three-day study tour of migrant camps, announces its Jammu chapter and claimed that they have also some Muslim and Sikh youth as members of their Organization. RIK said that it is planning to organize a Kashmir conference in coming days.

"We are not against Kashmiri Muslims but want a probe in the circumstances under which pandits were forced to leave valley", an RIK member told News Agency of Kashmir at the side lines of a news conference, adding that they have launched a campaign against those who were involved in the selective killings of Kashmiri Pandits(KP) during 1989.

Addressing a press conference here today, Aditya Raj Koul, leader of the group flanked by other members, said the purpose of visiting Jammu migrant camps and non-camp areas was to have a first hand experience of conditions in which the Pandits are living after the migration. "Our motive to visit here was to understand the problems being faced by the community members", he added.

The Roots In Kashmir will explore the possibilities for capacity development the KP youth to enable them to get better employability which state government has failed to provide them", he added.

He said Roots In Kashmir (RIK) has been working on various issues and has even successfully carried out numerous campaigns, which include, protest against Yasin Malik; meeting with the NHRC, nation-wide protest on the International Human Rights Day; organizing the first ever Kashmiri Pandit youth Festival attended by more than 30,000 delegates and many more.

Roots In Kashmir (RIK), he said, want to draw attention of the citizens of the country, the government, various human rights organizations, NGO's and specially the media towards the conditions in which the Kashmiri Pandits are living in state and out side.

"It has been a demand of the Kashmiri Pandit Community for last more then one and a half decade that a commission should be set up which can probe the cause of the 'exodus' of Pandits. Why is there no reaction of the govt. on this demand?" questioned Aditya Raj Kaul.

"Inquiry commissions were set up immediately after the Gujarat riots and in the custodial killings that surfaced recently in Kashmir," Raj said adding "We strongly condemn the custodial killings of civilians but at the same time we demand a probe into the forced 'exodus' of an entire community form their mother-land".

He said what stops Government from probing the forced migration of KPs which not only spoil the future of thousands of youth of the community but also forced their old age parents to live in such an environment which made their life a hell.

"Neither state nor center government are sincere in addressing the problems of our community as a whole and those living a pathetic life in camps both in Jammu and out side the state", alleged a female member of the group.

"We appreciate the efforts of government agencies who uncover number of fake encounter cases in Kashmir", said another member adding that however no step has been taken to probe the selective killings by JKLF Militants.

A number of cases are still pending against JKLF front line leaders in J&K courts, TADA Courts, CHI etc. but the judiciary and the government is showing complete lack of interest in taking these cases forward and bringing them to justice which according to RIK is gross Human Right violation of the Pandit community.

"If the government do not take strong action against them in the coming days, then Roots In Kashmir (RIK) will be forced to knock at the doors of Apex court ", said Pooja Shali, female activist of RIK, alleging "The separatist groups led by Yasin Malik and Syed Ali Shah Geelani have created a strong lobby of so called human Right activists based in Delhi. She said outwardly they pose to be propagating Nationalistic agenda while internally they have links with separatist's leaders. "Strict vigil needs to be kept on the persons who are propagating secessionist's agenda on the name of Human Rights violation in Kashmir."

She said, during their visit to various migrant camps in Jammu region they found that 35,000 Kashmiri Pandit refugees are being given step-motherly treatment by the government.

"We also raise our concern over the condition of the Pandits living in Battal Bali Camp who are facing a threat to their lives due to industry pollution" said Neeru Kaul another female activist of the group.

"There have been rise in deaths of camp inmates due to various unknown diseases, which they developed during their stay in camps", said Sunil Bhat, adding that the government has completely failed to address the basic issues like providing proper sanitation, medical care facilities to migrants.

Referring to a recent study conducted by Dr. K.L. Choudhary, an eminent doctor from the community, he said around 60% children in Purkhoo Camp in Jammu are suffering from severe Anemia and there is a rise in the patients of Asthma in Battal Ballina camp.

There is an immediate need of renovation and maintenance of the Rainawari Shiva temple, Akingam Shrine in Anantnag district, Kapalmochana shrine in Shopian and many others so that the community members could visit these places.

The members of Roots In Kashmir (RIK) who were part of the visiting delegation included Rashneek Kher, Aditya Raj Kaul, Ashish Zutshi, Amal Magazine, Pooja Shalt, Neeru Kaul, Sunil Ticku, Arun Kaul, Aseem Bhat and Sunil Bhat.