In pursuance of its poll promise to rehabilitate the Kashmiri Pandits back in the Kashmir valley, the BJP-led government in the Centre has given its approval for a package of Rs 2,000 crore that would help provide state government jobs to the KPs, which were first promised by the erstwhile UPA government in 2008-2009 but held in abeyance due to no serious initiative to release funds.
The Cabinet proposal provides for additional 3,000 state government jobs to the Kashmiri migrants with financial assistance from the Union government.
Transit accommodations will also be constructed in the Kashmir Valley for the migrants who are appointed to serve as state government employees. The financial implication of this would be borne by the Centre.
The move was hailed by the Kashmiri Pandit community, who had been waiting for the promised jobs for over six years now. But adequate funds were never released by the United Progressive Alliance government, which was in power till May 2014.
“Earlier also, there was an announcement that 6,000 government jobs will be provided to migrant KPs. There was an understanding between the state government and the Central government that 3,000 jobs will be created by the state government and the remaining 3,000 by the Centre. But till today, only the centrally funded jobs were allotted. The National Conference-Congress led state government said it did not have the resources to accommodate another 3,000 employees on their state budget,” said Sanjay Tickoo, president of Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti.
He said that the initiative demonstrated the resolve and political will of the new establishment towards rehabilitating the migrant KPs. “The fact that the Cabinet has approved the release of funds reflects that the PDP-BJP government in the state must have pursued the matter seriously with the Centre,” he told this correspondent, while dismissing the separatists’ allegation that the government is trying to create ghettos for the KPs.
“What have been created are accommodation camps where the KP employees live in shared flats,” Tickoo told The Sunday Guardian.
Nevertheless, the government’s decision to construct transit accommodation has evoked sharp reaction from different groups of the majority community. Opposition National Conference and the separatists have already said that such accommodations for the Kashmiri Pandits are against the interests of the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir. Separatists have said that they will launch an agitation against the construction of “clusters” for Kashmiri Pandits in the valley.
But Tickoo pointed out that the shared flats, which have been provided to KP employees as accommodation, are in fact so miserable that none of them but one have brought their families to live with them.
“There is no rehabilitation in the real sense even though jobs have been provided to some. No family except one has come back so far. Others are here but they have not brought back their families because there is uncertainty. They need a proper accommodation but what is being provided are camps with shared apartments,” Tickoo said.
He said that the separatist protests were uncalled for as the government is thinking on different lines. “The Central government wants to build a composite township for the migrants. But the separatists gave a one day call against that proposal. The government is now thinking on different lines. The government’s policy is that let these people (KPs) come and avail the government jobs. They will bring their families only after a passage of time,” Tickoo said, adding there is also a proposal to grant Rs 20 lakh to those who want to rebuild their houses.
The ruling People’s Democratic Party hailed the Cabinet decision to release the package for the migrants in the state. But the National Conference alleged that Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has “outsourced his government to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the BJP, and that all decisions are being taken without any consultation with the CM”.
Earlier, in 2008 Central government provided a package to the migrant Kashmiri Pandit to the tune of RS 1,618.40 crore to facilitate their return to their homeland. Under this package, 3,000 government jobs were provided to migrants and 470 transit accommodations were constructed for them in Kashmir Valley.
With inputs from Noor-ul-Qamrain in Srinagar.