Pandit rehabilitation: Can Modi break the ice?

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Shah Abbas

SRINAGAR                             

In his inaugural address to the joint session of Parliament, President Pranab Mukherjee among other things spoke about Kashmiri Pandits and their rehabilitation while outlining Modi-led government’s agenda.

Mukherjee said that special attempts will be made to ensure the return of Kashmiri Pandits to, “the land of their ancestors with full dignity, security and assured livelihood”. It is for the first time since Pandits left valley in 1990 that the President of the country spoke about their return and rehabilitation.

Pertinently, the Kashmir Valley had became a laboratory of killings, disappearances, arrests spree and dislodgement of its own people from their birth places during nineties.

While his run up for the PM post Modi promised to do his best to resolve the “issues” pertaining to the return of Pandits. He later reiterated his government’s resolve to work on their rehabilitation and ensure they are no longer “refugees in their own country”.

Though rehabilitation of Pandits does not seem to be an easy task, but if there was ever a time to fix this tragedy, that is now. Such windows of opportunity come rarely, and when they do, they need to be seized.

Demand for a separate “homeland” from certain Pandit organisations has added to the complexity of the rehabilitation process. Any move towards this direction will be met with stiff resistance from the valley. Separatists have already opposed the idea saying “they will not allow creation of a state within a state” in Kashmir.

Now, Prime Minister Modi is expected to visit Jammu later this month. He is reportedly to announce his “rehabilitation policy” of Pandits during his three day visit to the winter capital. Political pundits and analysts are with crossed fingers guessing about the policy. Even Pandits do not know much about it. But the larger question is can Modi break the ice?

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