Prominent members of the community say that the BJP at least continues to talk about the issues of the community.
New Delhi: Some prominent Kashmiri Pandit members have said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the only hope for the lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits waiting to return to Kashmir, the land of their ancestors, with full dignity, security and assured livelihood. An estimated 1.5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee from the Valley 30 years ago.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian on the issues of rehabilitation of lakhs of Kashmiri PandIts and their hopes, Susil Pandit, said: “Kashmiri (Hindus) Pandits feel betrayed by the entire political spectrum. Institutions, the constitutional order, the Parliament, the Supreme Court, the criminal justice system and political parties have all betrayed Kashmiri Pandits. This betrayal has continued.”
“Now, the BJP has stood out as the only formation that at least talks about the cause and promises to do something about it, but when they got a mandate in 2014 to actually translate this talk and convert this promise into action, even they chose not to do so. In fact, the irony is that they decided to collaborate with those who are responsible for the present condition of the Kashmiri Hindus. However, our only source of hope, the BJP, has also betrayed us in the last five years,” Pandit said.
Explaining the current scenario, where the options are less, Pandit said: “Having said that, now there are no more options in the entire spectrum where we can pin our hopes, but the BJP continues to talk about our issues. They have again mentioned in their manifesto that they are committed to our rehabilitation. We don’t have any option—either we do not support anyone and sit at home and not participate or choose to support somebody and again stick our neck out and support the BJP, hoping that this time they would not betray us.”
“There is a systemic prejudice against the Kashmiri Pandit community and antagonists think that the community has had a disproportionate clout for several decades and that it doesn’t need any assistance from the government. Despite all the negativity, I still have hope that there will be some or other solution. We will continue to show the mirror to those who has collusion with the jehadis,” Pandit added.
Aditya Tikku, another prominent Kashmiri voice, told The Sunday Guardian, “The BJP is a kind of natural ally for Kashmiri Pandits; however, the party did nothing in the last five years. However, the party has once again shown its commitment towards the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits.”
“In the last 30 years, not a single institution of the Indian state has worked in favour of the rights of Kashmiri Pandits and political parties have been no exception. Though the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime in 2010 initiated some good steps, it could not follow up on them. Now we have pinned our hopes on the BJP and expect some progress on the cause of the Kashmiri Pandits,” Tikku said.
Currently, the rehabilitation packages and programmes remain stalled. In 2008, the then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime announced a package for the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants, offering maximum assistance of Rs 7.5 lakh to each family for construction of houses, but the proposal did not move forward and remained an announcement. In September 2017, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced in Srinagar that the Central government had decided to construct 6,000 transit accommodations for Kashmiri Pandits in three composite townships in North, South and Central Kashmir, but the National Conference and separatists opposed the move.
Their hopes for a return to Kashmir were rekindled after the formation of the PDP-BJP government in March 2015, but nothing happened in this direction.