Kashmiri Pandit groups continued their months-long protest on Saturday here against the government over selected killings of their members, and demanded the constitution of a committee under Union Home Minister Amit Shah to ‘formulate and implement’ their rehabilitation.
The Kashmiri Pandit Sabha (KPS) threatened to intensify its agitation, if the government did not stop threatening to withhold the salaries of KP employees and forcing them to come back to the valley, where they are under mortal threat from terrorists.
The agitation of KP employees, who were posted in the valley under the PM employment package, entered its 182nd day on Saturday.
The protesters said that it’s high time the Narendra Modi-led Union government brought back the entire Kashmiri Hindu community living as refugees in various parts of the country back to the valley and rehabilitated them with “security, honour and dignity.” Youth All India Kashmiri Samaj president R K Bhat and scores of others from the community raised slogans and held protests near the press club in the city.
The protesters carried the placards that read “we are refugees in our own country”, “Struggle for existence continues” “I am a Kashmiri Pandit, I love my Identity” and “KP soul in exile” as they pressed for their demands.
“It is the right time for the central government to announce a comprehensive package for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits to the valley,” Bhat told reporters here.
He said that the entire community should be rehabilitated back to the valley along with the employees under a ‘return and rehabilitation plan,’ and not just the employees alone.
“We demand the setting up of an apex committee headed by the Union Home Minister for formulation of a comprehensive road map on how KPs will return and be rehabilitated back in the valley,” Bhat said.
He said that it will be a true tribute to the “KP martyrs.” The protesters slammed the current and previous government for their failure to recruit 6,000 KPs, as envisaged under the PM special employment back over the years.
Bhat said that the government should enhance the package to employ 15,000 KP youths.
He also alleged that the rehabilitation package for Kashmiri Pandits announced by the Centre a few years ago was an “eyewash.” “We urge the government to restructure, redesign, and revise this package by holding a proper dialogue with its organisations and its representatives immediately as a confidence building measure,” he said.
KP employees posted in valley have been protesting for the past over six months demanding their relocation from the valley to Jammu in the wake of targeted killings.
At the same time, the protesters have been demanding the return of KPs en masse from everywhere to the valley where they could live in a secure environment.
The Kashmiri Pandit Sabha, which held a meeting here under the chairmanship of its chief K K Khosa, lambasted the LG administration for its “insensitive and shocking attitude” and arm-twisting KP employees to return back to work.
“While the UT government is well aware that it has failed to provide security, and also in creating a congenial environment in the valley where the Kashmiri Pandits and other minorities could live and work without any fear, such repressive measures and rigid attitude will be resisted by the minorities in general and the KP community in particular,” Khosa said.
“Unabated targeted killings of the minorities including the Kashmiri Pandits, especially in the aftermath of the abrogation of articles 370 & 35A, are a stark reality and remaining in denial about the undercurrents will further complicate the situation in Kashmir,” he said.
Khosa said there is a total disconnect in the valley between the people and the administration, including even among those KPs who have been living there for the past three decades.
“Let normalcy return to the valley so that these employees feel confident and secure once again.
“The UT government must understand that they have been rendering their services in the valley with dedication for the past more than a decade and it is only now that the conditions in the valley have deteriorated,” he added.