Migrant Hindu families start returning to Kashmir


Srinagar : Responding to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s rehabilitation package, nine migrant Hindu families have returned to their homes in south Kashmir.

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Totalling nearly 40 members, these families had left their homes in Verinag town in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, 70 kms from here. Around 300,000 Hindus, known as Pandits, migrated out of the Kashmir Valley with the beginning of the separatist violence in 1990.

Encouragingly, their Muslim neighbours have welcomed the Pandit families with open arms.

Recalling their experiences of 18 years as migrants in the state’s winter capital Jammu, one of the returnee Pandits, Ratan Lal Koul, said: “Life was a trauma living away from our roots.

“I am sure other migrant families will also return to their homes and hearths as the situation here has remarkably improved.”

Refusing to accept that their return had been prompted purely because of the Rs.750,000 rehabilitation package announced by the prime minister, Koul said: “We had been planning our return for over three years now. Finally contact was established with our Muslim neighbours who totally supported the idea of our return and that is how we are here now.”

The district administration is now likely to put on hold the proposal to acquire the land belonging to these Pandit families in the town that had been marked for setting up a bus stand there.

“These families can approach us and since the land acquisition proceedings are yet to be initiated, we can reconsider the entire proposal,” said Jaipal Singh, district magistrate of Anantnag district.