Rehabilitation Without 'Exclusive Colonies' For Kashmiri Pandits: JK Govt
SRINAGAR: Ruling out building "exclusive colonies" for the migrant Kashmiri Pandits who left the Valley at the peak of insurgency in early nineties, the Jammu and Kashmir government Thursday acknowledged that the process for their rehabilitation has been started.
"We (government) share their (Hurriyat's) concern. We fought elections on the promise of protecting the special status of the state. But at a time when the tourism has started picking up and economic activity is limping back to normalcy, what will we get out of agitations," Naeem Akhtar, J&K government spokesman told reporters during a press conference.
The government's clarification came a day after the moderate Hurriyat chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, threatened to launch a '2008-like agitation' over the proposal of building exclusive "Composite Townships" for Kashmiri Pandits and Sainik Colony for ex-servicemen in the Valley.
Led by the JKLF chief Yasin Malik, the separatists in Kashmir are chiseling out a "joint strategy" against New Industrial Policy, establishment of Pandit and Sainik colonies, and the extension of NEET to J&K, which is seen as attempt to "erode" the special status of the state.
"They (Pandits) are returning to entirely different scenario in the Valley. We are not setting up exclusive colonies for them. Wherever they live, they have to be granted the space in existing habitations along with other Kashmiris. But agitation is not the answer. Who will benefit from it?," Akhtar said.
Akther called for a debate on the return of the Pandits within civil society, the opposition and the Hurriyat groups, "There is complete consensus among separatists, government and opposition on their (Pandits) return to the Valley," he said.
"Let they (separatists) lead the campaign on getting Pandits back to Kashmir. There are no two opinions on the desirability and urgency of getting them back. But the question is how we are going to achieve it. We are open for a debate on this," he said.
The government spokesman, however, didn't clarify reports that the state government has conveyed to the Centre that it has identified land at three places in Baramulla, central and south Kashmir to construct residential units for Pandits.
Acknowledging that the process to set up Sainik Colonies was under the consideration of the J&K government, Akhtar said it has been conveyed to the authorities that there is no land available for developing Sanik Colonies.
“The Rajya Sainik Board has been told that we (J&K) have no land available for developing the colonies,” said Akthar.