Hindustan Times – Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee prepares meals for people in quarantine centres in Kashmir

After the gurdwara committee received complaints about poor quality food being served at quarantine centres in the district, they decided to do something about it.

Idrees Bukhtiyar

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 15 May 2020. Amid the Covid-19 nationwide lockdown, the Sikh community in Kashmir have started serving langar to people admitted in the quarantine centres.

Strict food hygiene practices such as maintaining social distancing and using face masks and gloves were observed while the food was prepared.

“We have started serving meals to the Muslim community at various quarantine centres in different districts of the Valley,” said Navtej Singh, secretary of Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (GPC) Srinagar.

He said that to date, they have provided meals to around 250 people in Srinagar district on Friday. “We will continue serving food to people in the coming time as well,” he said.

After the gurdwara committee received complaints about poor quality food being served at quarantine centres in the district, they decided to do something about it. “There were many people in such centres who were not getting food on time, so we decided to provide food packets to them,” said Balbir Singh, secretary of GPC in Budgam.

“A team visits the quarantine centres twice a day to deliver the food packets. They are happy with our service,” said Salinder Singh, president GPC Chatrogam, Tral.

The food is also being served at quarantine centres in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district and more than 300 people have been covered under the initiative so far.

Pardeep Singh Dardi, a social activist said that Sikhs have always been the front runners in the troubled times across the world. “The community has provided personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, sanitisers, masks, medicines, dry ration and other essential items to the needy people in the valley so far,” he said.

“We have been following government guidelines to carry out the relief work. We don’t want anyone to suffer,” said Balwinder Singh, chairman of Sikh Welfare Trust, Kashmir.

A student who has been quarantined at a hotel in the city’s Lal Chowk area said, “We have always received a heart-warming response from the community.”

https://www.hindustantimes.com/chandigarh/gurdwara-parbandhak-committee-prepares-meals-for-people-in-quarantine-centres-in-kashmir/story-91Eheov1i91RSQRlGBcwBO.html

The Asian Age – Government withdraws privileges given to former J&K chief ministers

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 02 April 2020. The government on Wednesday withdrew various privileges and perks including rent-free accommodation to former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir by repealing the relevant legal provision.

Jammu and Kashmir has four former chief ministers including Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Ghulam Nabi Azad who were availing these privileges or some of them. However, Ms Mufti is in incarceration since 05 August year.

Under Section 3-C of the State Legislature Members’ Pension Act, 1984, former chief ministers of the erstwhile state which included Ladakh which is now a separate Union Territory (UT) were entitled to rent-free furnished accommodation, expenditure to the limit of Rs 35,000 per annum for furnishing of the residential accommodation, free telephone calls up to the value of Rs 48,000 per annum, free electricity to the extent of Rs 1,500 per month, car, petrol, medical facilities, driver etc.

They could also avail the services of one personal assistant, one special assistant and two peons. “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, a member who is entitled to a pension under this Act and who has served as Chief Minister of the State, shall be entitled to a car, petrol, medical facilities, driver, rent-free furnished accommodation, expenditure to the limit of Rs 35,000 per annum for furnishing of the residential accommodation, free telephone calls up to the value of Rs 48,000 per annum, free electricity to the extent of Rs 1500 per month etc,” reads Section 3(C) of the law.

It has been through Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization (an adaptation of state laws) Order-2020.

The move comes months after J&K Law Commission had recommended repeal of the legal provisions providing facilities to former chief ministers, saying these provisions “violate the constitutional principles of equality” and are “arbitrary and not in consonance with any scheme or law.”

The move comes months after J&K Law Commission had recommended repeal of the legal provisions providing facilities to former chief ministers

https://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/020420/govt-withdraws-privileges-given-to-former-jk-chief-ministers.html

BBC News – Omar Abdullah: Kashmir leader released from months-long detention

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 24 March 2020. Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister of Indian-administered Kashmir, has been released after nearly eight months in detention.

The decision was taken amid concern for his health because of Covid-19, a police official told BBC Urdu.

He added that Mr Abdullah would be home “anytime today”.

He was among thousands of local leaders put under house arrest a day before the disputed region was stripped of its semi-autonomous status on 5 August.

His house arrest was further extended in February under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA), which allows detention without charge for up to two years.

But last week India’s top court asked the federal government for an update on his release, in response to a petition by Mr Abdullah’s sister.

Another former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, whose house arrest was also extended under the PSA, is still in detention. It’s also unclear how many Kashmiris continue to be held. Some estimates put the number in the thousands.

The Kashmir region has been tense since August. The government deployed tens of thousands of troops to quell unrest and enforced a crackdown on communications after it decided to strip the region of its special status and split it into two federally-administered territories.

The governing Bharatiya Janata Party defended the decision, saying it was necessary to uphold law and order.

Although phone connections and internet services have been restored, access remains poor and speeds are below what is common in the rest of India.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-52015776

BBC News – Farooq Abdullah: Kashmir leader released from seven-month detention

Indian authorities have announced the release of a veteran Kashmiri MP and former chief minister who had been in detention for seven months. The order did not give any reason for Farooq Abdullah’s release.

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 13 March 2020. He said he was “grateful” to all those who fought for his freedom, and called for the release of other detainees. He was among thousands of local leaders put under house arrest a day before the disputed region was stripped of its semi-autonomous status in August.

The government deployed tens of thousands of troops to quell unrest and enforced a crackdown on communications. Mr Abdullah’s detention under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) had generated debate, especially as he is an MP.

Days ago, eight opposition parties wrote a letter to the government, demanding his release along with other Kashmiri leaders.

The joint resolution warned that “democratic dissent is being muzzled” in the state. Two other former chief ministers, including Mr Abdullah’s son Omar and Mehbooba Mufti, are still in detention.

Thousands of others, including political party workers, activists and lawyers are also in custody, with many taken to jails in cities outside the region. The government said the move, decried by critics as draconian, was necessary to maintain law and public order in the region.

It also moved to block internet and mobile connectivity in the region, these have only been partially restored.

A five-time chief minister of Indian-administered Kashmir, Mr Abdullah was widely considered to be a “pro-India” politician in the state.

Both India and Pakistan claim the region in its entirety, but control only parts of it.

When he was first placed under house arrest, MPs demanded an explanation as the procedure is to inform parliament if a member of the house is to be arrested. This prompted Home Minister Amit Shah to tell the house that Mr Abdullah was “not detained or arrested”.

In one of his last public interviews since then, Mr Abdullah gave an emotional television interview where he accused Mr Shah of lying. “Why would I stay inside my house on my own will when my state is being burnt, when my people are being executed in jails? This is not the India I believe in,” he said.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-51869134

The Asian Age – Donald Trump’s visit sparks fear among J&K Sikhs

Trump and First Lady Melania are scheduled to travel to Ahmedabad, Agra and New Delhi on 24 and 25 February.

Yusuf Jameel

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 23 February 2020. The US President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit of India has caused fear psychosis and panic among the Sikhs of Kashmir Valley as they are reminded of the ‘horror’ of the night of March 19, 2000 when as many as 35 members of the minority community were massacred by gunmen in Chattisinghpora village of southern Anantnag district during then President Bill Clinton’s official visit of the country.

Stating this, Jagmohan Singh Raina, chairman of All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC), an amalgam of J&K’s Sikh organizations, said that the Sikhs of the Valley have to face such fearful situation whenever a high profile foreign personality, especially, that from USA visits India.

“The whole of India seems to be busy in making preparations for Mr Trump’s visit, but for Sikhs of Kashmir, the visit has brought in fears that the members of community are yet again on the radar.

The Sikhs are feeling insecure and they fear that something untoward might happen on the eve of Donald Trump’s visit,” Mr. Raina said in a statement here on Saturday.

In 2000, on the intervening night of 19 and 20 March, when the then US President Mr. Clinton was in India, 35 Sikhs were shot dead by gunmen in Army uniforms after descending to Chattisinghpora. A local woman had also died of cardiac arrest on seeing piles of bullet-riddled corpses of the victims, raising the toll to 36.

The authorities had blamed the gory incident on separatist militants. Five days after the massacre, Army and J&K police had claimed that five perpetrators were killed in an encounter in Anantnag’s Pathribal area and all of them were foreign terrorists.

But later, it turned out to be a fake encounter and all the five slain men were unarmed civilians, who were picked up by the forces from different areas of the district earlier. Subsequently, at least ten persons were also killed after security forces opened fire on the people protesting against the fake encounter in Anantnag’s Brakapora area.

The CBI had in 2006 chargesheeted Brigadier Ajay Saxena, Lt. Colonel Brajendra Pratap Singh, Major Sourabh Sharma, Major Amit Saxena and Subedar Idrees Khan for killing five civilians.

However, in January 2014, the Army closed the Pathribal fake encounter case, asserting that the evidence recorded couldn’t establish a prime-facie case against any of the accused.

The Army had taken up the case from the civil court in 2012 following the directions of the Supreme Court before which it has earlier challenged the charge-sheet filed by the CBI, which had described the incident as staged encounter and the killing of the civilian as a cold-blooded murder.

Even after the lapse of nearly two decades the people of J&K particularly the Sikhs of the Valley are still waiting for the justice to be delivered. Mr Raina said that the scars inflicted on the Sikhs of the Valley during Mr Clinton’s visit “are yet to be removed even after 20 years as the people who carried out the crime are yet to be identified”.

He said, “It is highly unfortunate that neither the Government of India nor the successive J&K governments have reached to any conclusion with respect to identifying the killers of Sikhs at Chattisinghpora. The people at helm have just been making claims and truth of the matter is killers continue to roam free,” he added.

He said the Sikhs of the Valley were gripped by panic also during the India visit of (former) President Barrack Obama “but, fortunately, nothing untoward happened”. He, however, asked the Sikh living in village of north and south Kashmir “to remain alert and vigilant” during the Trump visit.

http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/230220/donald-trumps-visit-sparks-fear-among-jk-sikhs.html

The Hindu – Congress leader Mani Shanker Aiyar slams envoys

Special Correspondent

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 17 February 2020. Congress leader Mani Shanker Aiyar, who was restricted to a Srinagar hotel and prevented from participating in a conference here, termed the Kashmir situation far from normal and criticised the foreign diplomats who claimed to see signs of normalcy during their recent visit.

“Any foreign Ambassdor who went to Srinagar just two days before I did and claimed that he has seen signs of normalcy should never have been promoted to above third secretary status. I say this as an Indian foreign service officer,” Mr Aiyer told The Hindu.

Mr Aiyar and O P Shah, who heads the Centre for Peace and Progress, had planned a meet and invited civil society groups.

”The hotel where we were staying had just three rooms booked. It was me, Mr. Shah and an armed policeman who monitored movement of all those who visited us. Hours before the conference was to start, the police barricaded the hotel. We were also restricted to its premises,” Mr. Aiyer said.

”If the foreign envoys could visit and meet the groups of delegations recently despite Section 144, why can’t we meet groups inside a hotel? It’s clear there is no normalcy. If Amit Shah regards disallowing this kind of meeting as normalcy I would like him to explain what is normalcy,” he said.

“I decided to visit J&K because the Prime Minister said opposition leaders should go there and see for themselves. Besides, Mr Amit Shah said he is not placing any restrictions on people going or coming. In effect, if one goes to endorse their normalcy, you are allowed to go.

If you want to listen to people and see what is boiling in their hearts, it’s not allowed,” said Mr Aiyer.

He said during his stay in Kashmir he just witnessed empty hotels, shikara-walas (boat owners) waiting to host a tourist and armed security personnel manning the streets.

“It’s clear there is no normalcy. If Mr Amit Shah regards disallowing this kind of meeting as normalcy I would like him to explain what is normalcy. What are they afraid of if normalcy has returned? Why are they continuing with restrictions on the people of Kashmir.

There is fear and apprehension everywhere that the lid on the steam kettle will blow off by the internal pressure. Though nobody is able to say when and what will be the trigger. Many here fear ailing Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani’s death could provide that trigger,” he added.

This kind of behaviour, he said, showed that the situation in Kashmir is not under control of the Government of India. “The huge military presence seems an attempt at dominating the local population,” he added.

The Congress leader said there were bogus attempts at creating some kind of alternative to the genuine leadership, which is in the prison.

“I realised that the entire Sheikh family is now in detention of one kind or other without recognition to the fact that this is the family that acceded with India and upheld the flag of India for 70 years in every corner of Kashmir,” he added.

He lamented that there was no attempt to reach out to the people. “It’s believed that by intimidation and by cultivating quislings, the Centre will be able to sell development discourse.

J&K is far ahead on most of the development indices because of Article 370. In fact, there is plummeting of J&K’s GDP since August 5. The Kashmir problem is far from over but got aggravated instead,” he warned.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/congress-leader-mani-shanker-aiyar-slams-envoys/article30837856.ece

The Asian Age – Second batch of foreign diplomats shown around Kashmir

Briefings, meetings and boat rides organized for their benefit

Yusuf Jameel

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 12 February 2020. A second batch of New Delhi-based diplomats from over two dozen countries began a two-day tour of Jammu & Kashmir for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation in the troubled territory.

Reports emanating from Delhi said the Russian ambassador to India declined an invitation to join the delegation.

In Srinagar, the delegation was briefed by top Army officers on the security situation in the districts and along the Line of Control (LoC).

They were told of Pakistan’s “unremitting attempts to push in militants and terrorists and perpetrate ceasefire violations” along the de facto border, a defence spokesman said here.

Earlier in the day, the visiting envoys interacted with fruit growers and traders in Baramulla district and had a series of meetings with representatives of political parties, trade unions, civil society groups, women entrepreneurs and a select group of media persons, all handpicked by their hosts.

They were also treated to shikara rides on the Dal lake.

After a night’s stay in a luxury Srinagar hotel, the delegation will visit the winter capital Jammu on Thursday where they are scheduled to meet Lt Governor Girish Chandra Murmu, his advisors and government functionaries, officials of the police and security forces and leaders and representatives of various political parties, civil society groups and business leaders.

Opposition criticism

This is the third visit by foreign diplomats and lawmakers to Jammu & Kashmir since 05 August last year, when the erstwhile state was stripped of its special status and bifurcated into two union territories.

Supervised by the Union Home Ministry, the visits have been strongly criticized by the opposition which questioned the wisdom of “wasting money and other resources of the state by sponsoring such pleasure trips.”

Congress leader Saifuddin Soz said, “The visiting delegation should be allowed to meet the three former chief ministers who have been incarcerated. I too have some ideas to share with them but I wonder if they will be allowed to meet me. I’ve been under house arrest for the past six months.”

He added, “Taking them on shikara rides on the Dal lake and allowing them to meet only people handpicked by the government agencies are not going to help. Such tamashas have in the past left a negative impact on the psyche of the people, especially in the Kashmir Valley.”

Presence of EU diplomats

This batch of diplomats being conducted around Kashmir includes those from Canada, Austria, Uzbekistan, Uganda, Slovak Republic, Netherlands, Namibia, Kyrgyz Republic, Bulgaria, Germany, Tajikistan, France, Mexico, Denmark, Italy, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Poland and Rwanda.

The presence of diplomats from European Union member countries in this delegation is significant. The EU Parliament recently saw moves to bring in a joint draft resolution on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the Kashmir situation. A vote on the resolution was later deferred.

In mid January, envoys of 15 countries including United States ambassador to India Kenneth I. Juster and diplomats from Vietnam, South Korea, Brazil, Niger, Nigeria, Morocco, Guyana, Argentina, Philippines, Norway, Maldives, Fiji, Togo, Bangladesh and Peru had visited J&K at the invitation of the MEA which had said that they wanted to see firsthand the efforts being made by the government to normalise situation in the union territory.

In October last year, 27 MPs, drawn mainly from far-right parties, of 11 European countries visited Srinagar but the EU embassy in Delhi was quick to clarify then that they were in India in their “personal capacity” and not as part of an official delegation.

That visit too had drawn criticism by the Congress, National Conference (NC), People’s Democratic Party (PDP), CPM and other mainstream parties, terming it a “guided tour aimed at misleading the world about the ground realities in J&K.” The opposition and a section of the media had in particular criticised the manner in which European MPs were brought to Srinagar.

The Congress also questioned the wisdom and probity of the government in inviting foreign diplomats to visit J&K when the country’s own political leaders including MPs are being denied access to the erstwhile state.

However, Union minister of state for home affairs G. Kishan Reddy told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that there are no restrictions on Indian citizens visitng J&K.

https://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/120220/second-batch-of-foreign-diplomats-shown-around-kashmir.html

The Hindu – Five Kashmiri political leaders released after four months of detention

Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 30 December 2019. The leaders released belong to the National Conference, the PDP and the Congress, and were kept under preventive detention, officials said.

The J&K administration started a phased release of detained mainstream leaders on Monday. Five politicians and former legislators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Peoples Conference (PC) and the National Conference (NC) were released after five months of detention.

According to an official, the NC’s Ishfaq Jabbar, a former legislator from Ganderbal, Ghulam Nabi Bhat, PDP’s Bashir Mir from Kangan and Zahoor Mir from Pampore, also a former minister; and Peoples Conference’s Yasir Reshi, also a former legislator, were released on in the afternoon.

They are among the over 270 political leaders who were detained during the clampdown launched on mainstream regional parties on 05 August, the day the Centre revoked J&K’s special status. The politicians were initially held in the Centaur Hotel in Srinagar and later shifted to the MLAs Hostel, a former legislators’ residence-turned-sub-jail in Srinagar.

Top official sources said more political leaders are likely to be released in the first fortnight of the new year “as Kashmir has by far remained peaceful”.

An official said around 27 political detainees, including senior NC leader Ali Muhammad Sagar, PDP’s Naeem Akhtar, PC chief Sajad Lone and J&K Peoples Movement president Shah Faesal, continue to remain behind bars, under Section 107, an apparent threat to peace and public tranquillity.

However, NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah and vice-president Omar Abdullah, and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti remain in detention in separate sub jails in the city.

Monday’s release of politicians comes more than a month after the November 25 release of two mainstream regional leaders.

None of the detained leaders have been charged with any crime or trespass, not even those who are detained under section 107. Very odd, not very legal, no justice !
Man in Blue

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/five-kashmiri-political-leaders-released-after-four-months-of-detention/article30433629.ece?homepage=true

The New Indian Express – Sikhs in Kashmir agree to demolition of gurdwara to make way for national highway

The gurdwara was one of four bottlenecks in the road project, most parts of which were completed in 2013.

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 12 December 2019. In an exemplary act, the Sikh community in Kashmir on Thursday agreed to the demolition of a 72-year-old gurdwara to make way for a national highway connecting Srinagar with Baramulla which had been stuck for over a decade, an official said.

According to a settlement reached between the Sikh community and the Srinagar district administration, a new gurdwara will be built at an alternative site nearby.

Established in 1947, Gurdwara Damdama Sahib mainly served migrant families from Pakistan.

It organised langars and undertook many social service initiatives such as flood rescue.

The gurdwara was one of four bottlenecks in the road project, most parts of which were completed in 2013.

Further, a litigation in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had kept the matter related to the relocation of the gurdwara lingering for years.

Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary swung into action to break the deadlock and personally intervened in the discussion process. He reached out to the Sikh community to devise an amicable solution to the issue.

Choudhary held a series of meetings over the past week to examine a range of options to resolve the issue.

“Finally, today in the presence of the deputy commissioner and the gurdwara management, the demolition of Gurdwara Damdama Saheb was started. The gurdwara will function from a makeshift space till a new one is constructed at the agreed location.

The state public works department (PWD) has been entrusted with the construction of the gurdwara as per the design provided by the Sikh community,” the official said.

Giving details, he said that the government of India started construction of the national highway from Srinagar to Baramulla in 2006.

Later, the project was funded under the Prime Minister’s Development Plan.

The stretch of the road where the gurudwara stood was executed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), while the Anantnag-Srinagar section was constructed by the National Highways Authority of India.

The road was completed in 2013, but the four bottlenecks remained.

In 2014, the owner of the site proposed for relocation of the gurdwara objected to it and obtained a stay from the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. Besides the gurdwara, the three other bottlenecks were a power line, a petrol pump and water supply lines.

The official said the work on the demolition of the petrol pump and shifting of power lines and water supply lines has also started.

The work is likely to be completed in the next 10 days, he said.

“BRO will start construction of the road stretch this month. The administrative outreach of DC Srinagar to resolve this 13 years long pending complex issue is an example of a proactive approach for an efficient resolution aimed at public welfare,” he said.

“The act and gesture of the Sikh community here have created a history in Kashmir and will be remembered for ever,” Deputy Commissioner Choudhary said.

Noisy and polluting tin cans on wheels are still worshiped In India

https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/dec/12/sikhs-in-kashmir-agree-to-demolition-of-gurudwara-to-make-way-for-national-highway-2075284.html

The Print – Why Kashmiri Pandits can’t return to the Valley, even if they want to

When there exists no practical policy or intent to rebuild Kashmiri Pandit homes, how can anyone expect us to give a sure-shot answer on whether we want to return or not?

Ieshan Vinay Misri

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 05 December 2019. The question of Kashmiri Pandits returning to Kashmir is again up in the air as a more-or-less renowned journalist for an online media house just published something about it.

I personally don’t care about what exactly is opined in the said article as facts, especially the historical facts, about Kashmir in general and about Kashmiri Pandits’ communally forced exodus in particular.

Even after 30 years, the facts and the interpretations of those historical facts about the Kashmiri Pandit exodus are still either denied, misrepresented or misconstrued, and still the onus of proving the crime against them is on the Pandits themselves.

After questioning everything Kashmiri Pandits are and stand for or what they have been through, even the successes have been used as a narrative to whitewash the atrocities on them. And then they are asked whether they would go back.

Above all, the questions, will you return? When will you return? How many will return? are now another instrument to deny justice. Even if you say “yes”, they say you really won’t. In this context, some very basic facts need to be cleared on why we as a community are ambivalent on the “question of return”.

To begin with, the question of returning to Kashmir that is/was home is an oversimplification. For most of us, home has been burned, wrecked and razed to ground.

When there exists no practical and pragmatic policy or intent to rebuild it or to make it habitable again for the Hindu minorities, how can anyone expect us to give a sure-shot answer on whether we want to return or not? Can anyone live in a wreck? Will anyone return to the place that still is in the same situation socially, economically and politically when Kashmiri Pandits were forced to get out of their homes.

Add to it, the constraints of xenophobia, security threats and threat of communal violence, which triggered the exodus back in 1990.

In addition, after the exodus, most Kashmiri Pandits had to start from zero. They worked and struggled hard against all odds. A person who was completely uprooted from a place and after years of toiling has made it all work for him/her, is now confronted with an existential question of leaving it all again, relocating, and starting again from a place that doesn’t offer much, where most of the youth are either unemployed, radicalised or studying/working outside.

Can uprooting oneself again or expecting one to take the whole pain of relocation again based on just some fantasy, which is nothing more than castles in air, be expected of the Kashmiri Pandit community? And if they are ambiguous, undecided or don’t want to go after struggling for 30 years to get re-established, they are judged, their plight is denied and their right to the place of their origin is discounted.

Plus, a one-room quarter that was provided after struggling in the tents for almost two decades is pronounced as some luxury. And, a false narrative of “non-existent” refugee camps is created wherein the fact that the tents got replaced by concrete quarters is conveniently misrepresented so as to hint that Kashmiri Pandits have already gotten enough and shouldn’t be demanding a dignified return to their homeland.

This narrative is a convenient denial of what and how much Kashmiri Pandits lost. It overlooks the fact that justice hasn’t been done even after 30 years. This narrative is a replica of the jihadi propaganda that Kashmiri Pandits left because they were given huge sums, lucrative jobs, and property by the government of India, but in reality, it was snake and scorpion bites, scorching heat and half a tomato.

Moreover, the simple fact that escapes the comprehension ability of some people is that Jagati Township is a camp because people there still want to return. The term ‘camp’ signifies the state of long-term impermanence regardless of the physical structure or the name. The very reason the Jagati Township is called a camp is because the history and events of Kashmir exodus haven’t reached their logical conclusion and justice still evades us.

Unless and until the practical constraint of the return of Pandits is not dealt with in a realistic and pragmatic manner, the question of return remains futile and meaningless. It is nothing but another rhetorical tool in the hands of those who want to deny the decades-long suffering of the community.

The author is a Research Associate at Citizens’ Foundation for Policy Solutions (CFPS). Views are personal.

This article was originally published on The Medium on 3 December.

Why Kashmiri Pandits can’t return to the Valley, even if they want to