GoI’s U-turn on rehab plan leaves displaced Kashmiri Pandits disappointed

The U-turn by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) over setting up of transit camps for displaced Kashmiri Hindus in the Valley has raised a major question: Has the BJP abandoned Pandits to make way for separatist and radical elements in the dialogue process?
There is general perception among the minority community that the BJP-led Central government and the PDP-BJP coalition in J&K have for the first time delinked the Pandit issue from the peace process initiated in 1996 when Inder Kumar Gujral was the Prime Minister.
The plan to construct the composite townships in various parts of the Valley for the Pandits willing to return has faced opposition from the Hurriyat Conference and the Hizbul Muhajideen, which had threatened to use violence to stop the resettlement of Hindus in their homeland.
Other radical elements in the Valley communalised the issue by comparing it with the Gaza-like settlement by Zionists.
“It is now clear that the BJP has accepted what the separatists have been demanding. The way Pandits are being sidelined in the talks shows that the government is delinking our rehabilitation issues. It means they have no plan to allow Hindus to return,” alleged Vijay Kumar Moza, a retired Education Department employee who lives in Talab Tillo, Jammu.
The composite township plan was first mooted in 2008 and its groundwork was started in 2012-13 during the Congress-led UPA government.
In 2015, the Central government had claimed that the state government had identified 723 kanals in the Valley to construct the housing units. There has, however, been no progress as the Hurriyat Conference had warned of starting an agitation to oppose the settlements.
“What happened to the land identified for our resettlement. Officially, we have been condemned to live as refugees with the migrant tag. The Congress was much better when it came to pushing our cause. It had announced a job package and construction of flats in Jammu and Srinagar,” said Aditya Safaya, who lives in Muthi, which houses a considerable number of displaced families.
The revelation of the MHA has also cast a shadow on the Rs 2,000-crore rehabilitation package announced by the BJP-led Central government in 2015, which included construction of housing quarters for more than 2,000 youth who returned to the Valley under the Prime Minister’s employment package.
“Most of us are living in dilapidated, makeshift plastic and tin sheds in various districts of Kashmir and there is constant fear of stone throwers. For the past seven years, we are waiting for a dignified life,” said Sunil Koul, who returned to the Valley under the PM’s package and is posted at a school in Anantnag.
The PDP and the BJP, in its ‘Agenda of Alliance’, had agreed to examine the rehabilitation package announced by the Congress in 2008, but things have not moved much.
Opposition by separatists
Hardline Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani, moderate Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front led by Yasin Malik had opposed the composite township plan in 2014-15
Radical elements and intellectuals supporting the separatist cause gave the plan a ‘communal colour’ founding support from National Conference, PDP and Congress leaders in the Valley
The PDP-BJP coalition did not reconstitute the Apex Advisory Committee of the Pandits created by the Omar Abdullah led NC-Congress government to involve the community in the process of implementing the packages

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