Strong opposition to Jammu and Kashmir government’s move to create townships for Kashmiri Pandits

It will create a situation of ‘ghettoization’: National Conference

By Raqib Hameed Naik,,

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Srinagar/Jammu: A row erupted over the state government’s plan to create a ‘composite townships’ for displaced Kashmiri Pandits in the Kashmir valley even as the government’s move met with strong opposition from several parties and separatists in the state.

While opposing the plan of the PDP-BJP government to allocate land for ‘composite townships’, National Conference on Wednesday said this move would be detrimental to the “idea of reconciliation between the two communities and was in fact part of a greater, nefarious plan” by PDP and BJP.

... and there were Kashmiri Pandits too.
File photo of Kashmiri Pandits protesting in 2010. Photo by Joe Athialy

Ali Mohammad Sagar, the National Conference general secretary, in a statement said: “This whole idea of ‘composite townships’ is aimed to engineer a long-lasting divide between Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits and will create a situation of ‘ghettoization’ – which is contrary to what Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims wants,” he said.

More than 100,000 of the total Kashmiri Pandit population out of 140,000 left the valley during the 1990s following cases of persecuting in Kashmir.

Rajnath Singh, the Union Home Minister, on Tuesday in a meeting with Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, had asked to provide land in the state for “composite townships” for the Kashmiri Pandits. Reports said that Sayeed agreed to acquire and provide the land for the purpose.

Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister, took to Micro blogging site twitter to show his resentment over the development. “I very much doubt very many Kashmiri Pandits would like to return to the valley just to be housed in ghettos, segregated & isolated,” he said.

Meanwhile, Langate Engineer Abdul Rashid, MLA, and Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, CPI (M) leader and MLA, on Wednesday lambasted the Jammu & Kashmir government’s stand and asked it to come up clean on the issue. Rashid said, “The fact of the matter is that majority of Kashmiri pundits are not interested in settling back in Kashmir as they are happy in enjoying perks, packages and privileges. PDP lead by Mufti Sayeed is unfortunately acting as a facilitator in the grand plan of BJP brigade to communalise and polarize the situation in Jammu &Kashmir.”

Engineer Rashid asked Mufti who was in house to clear his stand and should ask New Delhi to take measures to heal the wounds of Kashmiris who have suffered all these years.

The separatist groups in Kashmir have called for a strike on Saturday to protest the proposed move to settle Kashmiri Pandits in “separate colonies” in the valley.

The Hurriyat leaders of Kashmir termed the Government move of ‘Separate Townships’ for Kashmiri pandits as ‘Weapon of War’ Against Kashmiri Muslims

Hurriyat (JK) opposed the move by terming it akin to “Zionist ploy which Israel used against the innocent Palestinians as a weapon of war.”

“It is the beginning of one more well calculated dangerous conspiracy against the Muslim identity of Kashmir,” Hurriyat (JK) leaders said in a joint statement and added, “That the ploy of creating separate zones in Kashmir and settling Kashmiri Pandits by the Union Home Minister and the puppet Chief Minister of Indian occupied Kashmir Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is akin to declaring a war against the majority community – the Muslims – of Kashmir.”

The chairman of Hurriyat (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani alleged that Mufti Mohammad Sayeed led PDP of surrendering before RSS and called for complete shutdown on Saturday.

“Separate township will be like a state within the state and we will never ever allow it.” Geelani said and added that people should rise against ‘an anti-Kashmir and anti-majority move’ and hold strong protests on Friday and observe complete shutdown on Saturday.”

Muhammad Yasin Malik, the Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), also called for a complete shutdown in Valley on Saturday to oppose the government move and asked the Indian civil society to define the term ‘Composite Culture.’ “Separate colony for KPs is a conspiracy to build the walls of hate in the name of religion.”

The Jamaat-e,-Islami Jammu and Kashmir while condemning the proposed move, alleged it as to disturb the historic brotherhood in Kashmir.

Terming the proposed “KP Townships”, Jamaat-e-Islami spokesman said, it is nothing but another “RSS and BJP agenda to further breach the harmony among Kashmiris”.

“Although, Pandits were made to leave but Kashmir Sikhs and other communities felt no insecurity in living among their Muslim brethren,” the spokesman said.

Kashmir Pandits are part of this society, he said. “They should uphold the long-lived tradition of the valley by coming back and living among the Kashmiri Muslim community,” he said.