Mufti Bows to Pressure, Retracts on Separate KP 'Townships'
JKLF leader Yasin Malik with Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley
NEW DELHI: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, facing heated flak and protest calls from within the state and outside, was left with no choice but to retract from a decision he had taken with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide land for the resettlement of the Kashmiri pandits in the Valley.
The state Assembly reflecting the anger, was rocked with protests leading the Chief Minister to “ assure the House that we will not make any separate clusters for Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley (for their rehabilitation)." The decision to make the separate townships was officially declared after a meeting between the CM, PM Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Hit hard for trying to polarise and communalise the "I have told the Union Home Minister that they (KPs) cannot live separately (in Kashmir Valley) and they will have to live together".
As always he claimed that this separate homeland was not being created, it was not possible, and that rumours were being floated to create controversies in the state. He said the government wanted to create an environment for the Kashmiri Pandits to return adding however, “we do not want to do it in hurry. We will take all the stakeholders on board before taking a decision. We want flowering of secularism in Kashmir so that
"Those (KPs) who want to come back should not live in separation. There will be no Israel-type clusters and we welcome them to settle back in their places," he added.
Congress Legislative Party leader Nawang Rigzin Jora raised the issue of Kashmiri Pandits township and charged the PDP-BJP government of promising the central government 500 kanals of land in Kashmir. The opposition--National Conference, CPI(M)--- all protested the move.
CPI(M) member M Y Tarigami said the House should be taken into confidence and Chief Minister should clarify its stand over the issue.
The Chief Minister denied that he had given any such assurance to the Centre. NC member Ali Mohammad Sagar accused Sayeed of becoming a tool for BJP's agenda on Jammu and Kashmir.
Uproarious scenes were witnessed in the House with opposition members getting into heated arguments with BJP and PDP members. The government spokesperson in Delhi had said that the composite townships were meant for those pandits who had no land and property left in the Valley. “The society and the Government is committed to facilitate reintegration of migrant pandits in their homeland with honour and dignity without compartmentalizing them as an isolated community," he had said.
While the National Conference said the party was against any separate "homeland" within the valley, separatists said creation of such settlements "is an Israeli ploy and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has take inspiration from that".
"We don't believe in separate homeland and the NC does not support it. The centre's decision is not important. It should be accepted by the people. What is the purpose if it creates differences among the people of the Valley," senior NC leader Ali Mohammed Sagar said.
Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik said separatist groups have always appealed to Kashmiri pandits to return to the valley.
"We will not allow the government to build separate settlements for Kashmiri pandits. This is an Israeli ploy and RSS has taken inspiration from that. They want to create walls of hatred, spread fire and divide the people," he told reporters.
In a statement, hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani called for a general strike across Kashmir on Saturday and peaceful protests after Friday prayers.
Geelani said the people of Kashmir were not against return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homes in the Valley.
He said most of the Kashmiri Pandits have settled in Jammu, Delhi and elsewhere in the country "but we will welcome any of them who want to return to their home".
The faction of Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq also termed the government proposal as a ploy to divide the people of Kashmir on communal lines.
"Rather than dividing the people on communal lines, the government should take steps for the honourable return of Kashmiri Pandits," Hurriyat said in Srinagar.
It vowed to oppose all plans to "divide" the people of the state and such attempts would be resisted "tooth and nail."
Moderate Hurriyat also asked the people to observe a shutdown on Saturday to protest the move.
The first one to respond was Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik. “Mufti is Playing RSS trick in Kashmir to divide Kashmir on the basis of religion,” he said. “Pandits should come and live among us as they used to before migration. Kashmir belongs to Pandits in the same manner as it belongs to Muslims,” he said. Malik accused the CM of “trying to build walls of hatred and replicate the things happening in Israel”
Former Chief Minister and NC leader Omar Abdullah in a series of tweets said:
“No right-minded Kashmiri will oppose the return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homes in the Valley.” “I will do everything possible to support the return of of Pandits to the valley in keeping with our composite culture & Kashmiriyat.”
“I very much doubt very many Kashmiri Pandits would like to return to the valley just to be housed in ghettos, segregated & isolated.”
“No right minded Kashmiri will support the ghettoisation of Kashmiri Pandits, housed in segregated inherently unsafe camps in the Valley.”
Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, calling for a shutdown on April 11, said, “Kashmiri Pandits are our brothers and important part of our society. No one in Kashmir is against their return to Valley, but India’s communal forces want to play a dirty game and implement their long-pending desire of making another Palestine in Jammu & Kashmir,” he said.
“All claims which Mufti Muhammad Sayeed made before the election drama and during the formation of government with BJP have got exposed. He is surrendering over every issue before New Delhi,” Geelani said.
Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, also giving a call for a April 11 shut down said, “The Hurriyat Conference considers that the unity, brotherhood and solidarity among Kashmiris irrespective of their religious or ethnic affiliations has always been exemplary and any ploy to divide them on communal lines would be against the spirit of our centuries-old communal harmony. Therefore, it would be strongly resisted by people.”