Amit Shah Assures Special Townships, Temple Rebuilding in Kashmir

The Minister gave the assurance to a seven-member Kashmiri Pandit delegation that met him at his residence.

3 min read
Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Final touches are being given to the 'Naya' Kashmir blueprint for Kashmiri Pandits under which ten special townships will be created in all the ten districts of the Valley for resettlement of the community following their mass exodus 30 years ago.

The Union Home Ministry has started working on the plan which also includes many rehabilitation schemes for Kashmiri Pandits who were forced to flee the Valley by Islamist terrorists in late 1989 and early 1990.

The “naya” Kashmir blueprint also comprises renovation and rebuilding of temples destroyed and desecrated by terrorists in all the 10 districts.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday, 18 February, gave similar assurances to a Kashmiri Pandit delegation promising them for rehabilitation via phased resettlement in the Valley amid adequate security.

The Minister gave the assurance to a seven-member Kashmiri Pandit delegation that met him for an hour at his residence around 12.30 p.m.

Shah Promises to Resettle All Kashmiri Pandits in Respective Districts

The delegation included Surinder Kaul, International Coordinator of Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora (GKPD); Utpal Kaul, GKPD India Coordinator; Anil Kachroo, GKPD USA; Taj Tikoo, President of the All India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS); Dileep Mattoo, President Jammu Kashmir Vichar Manch (JKVM); and AJKVM members Sanjay Ganjoo and Parikshit Kaul.

"The Minister promised to resettle all Kashmiri Pandits in their respective districts. He also assured that the resettlement process will be done in phases amid tight security," Utpal Kaul told IANS.

Kaul said that the Home Minister also assured the delegation that the age limit for government jobs vis-a-vis Kashmiri Pandits will be increased up to 50 years and the government will help reclaim their encroached properties in the Valley.

“All temples in the Valley will also be renovated,” Kaul said quoting Shah.

The delegation handed over a memorandum to him to thank the Union government for abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution relating to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

"The delegation members expressed heartfelt thanks to the Minister for maintaining a consistent position on its promise to rehabilitate the displaced Kashmiri Pandits in the Kashmir valley.

"The delegation also thanked the minister for abrogating article 370 and 35A whose pernicious impact has destroyed the Kashmiri society, culture, civilization, economic progress and the ability to lead a peaceful life in the valley," the memorandum read.

Formation of Advisory Council of Kashmiri Pandits

The delegation demanded the formation of an advisory council of Kashmiri Pandits to work under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs to come up with a plan for full restorative justice for the Kashmiri Pandits.

"The advisory council will have representation from mainstream community bodies, youth, women, eminent community think tank members, Jagati, rural and urban residents from the community and even overseas representation," the memorandum added.

The delegation requested Shah to accept the community's demand for a single concentrated rehabilitation plan, including employment and other rights, enshrined in the Constitution as well as restoration and rebuilding of temples, shrines and community assets, including crematoriums.

The Kashmiri Pandits also demanded setting up of a commission to investigate the cause of the genocide and ethnic cleansing faced by them in the Valley, with proactive steps to initiate legal proceedings and secure conviction of those responsible.

"The Minister gave a patient hearing to our demands and conveyed that rehabilitation of our community is an utmost priority with the government. He sought help from our community to compile a database of all the properties that have been either occupied or encroached upon so that the government can initiate redressal mechanisms to restore the property to the rightful owner," the delegation said.

Shah assured the delegation that the temples, shrines and all other community assets will be restored and made operational at the earliest, it said.

He informed the delegation that a massive drive is underway to generate employment and ensure heavy investment in various sectors of the new union territory's economy.

Plan of Rehabilitation Will Be Opposed: Pawan Durani

Soon after Shah's assurance, Pawan Durani of Panun Kashmir tweeted: "Dear@AmitShahji, by rehabilitating Kashmiri Hindus in 10 different districts, you would make this minuscule community 'shooting ducks'. Any plan of rehabilitation in different districts will be opposed by my community and Panun Kashmir, come what may."

In a series of tweets, Durani said: "Dear @AmitShahji, history tells us that there have been eight exodus of Kashmiri Hindus, it is time they have their own one place, a homeland, a homeland called Panun Kashmir. Distributing us in 10 districts can't be a plan of someone who would wish good everlasting solution."

"I urge all well wishes of Kashmiri Hindus to oppose this idea of creation of 10 Aushwitz townships for Kashmiri Hindus. Only solution acceptable is one place, our homeland ... Panun Kashmir."

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