PDP Will support Kashmiri Pandits in Their Return, Rehabilitation: Mehbooba Mufti

   

SRINAGAR: Reaching out to displaced Kashmiri Pandits, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday assured them of her party’s support in their return and rehabilitation in the valley, provided they “demonstrate boldness and come back to their homes”.

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Mehbooba, a former chief minister who is fighting Lok Sabha elections from the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat, said no government at the Centre can rehabilitate the community on its own and if the elderly Kashmiri Pandits “take risk” and return, their children will follow.

“Today it is the BJP, maybe tomorrow Congress will come to power in Delhi but any party that is in power can never pick you up and take you to Kashmir. That is not going to happen and you have to show boldness on your part for your return to your homes in the valley and we will also support you,” she said, addressing a gathering of Kashmiri Pandits here.

The former J-K chief minister said she had suggested to Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, who had announced five marlas of land to the homeless, to give priority to the migrant Kashmiri Pandits.

“When our government was in power, we initiated the process of land demarcation for your return and rehabilitation but the process could not be completed. I would like to continue my work in this direction,” she said.

Mehbooba Mufti said she is aware of the problems being faced by employees who are serving in the valley and would try to address all their problems.

“…some of the employees are either sick or are having peculiar situations in their homes demanding their transfer from the valley.

“Such cases need to be viewed on humanitarian grounds instead of being rejected on the pretext that there is no transfer policy for them,” she said, adding the employees recruited under the PM package should be treated on a par with other government employees and given full benefits.

Mehbooba Mufti said she supports the construction of residential quarters inside temple complexes across the valley so that the Kashmrii Pandits come to visit the places and spend some time there which will boost their confidence.

“I am of the view that the elderly population among the Pandits should take some risk and return to their homes in the valley. When you settle there, your children will come to see you and this will be the beginning of your return and rehabilitation,” she said and added tat people of both communities have lived together and shared their sorrow and happiness in the past.

She claimed the Centre’s decision to reserve two seats in the Assembly for Kashmiri migrants was meant to benefit the people who are close to the BJP.

It would have been better had the government reserved two seats for the community in the valley, she said.

She said a regional party “rigged” elections in 1987 with the help of the Centre and the same mistake is being repeated by the BJP-led government.

“The situation deteriorated in Kashmir after 1987 rigged elections…Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) was fighting those elections and today the same party is being roped in to fight the assembly elections.

“People are being threatened to vote in favour of proxy candidates. It was former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee who restored the trust of people by conducting free and fair elections but this government does not want to see Mehbooba in parliament. They should not hurt national interest just to keep me away,” she said.

The PDP leader claimed people have come out to vote in large numbers in the valley to “express their anger against the government, growing unemployment and inflation but if you interfere, you are only repeating 1987 which is not good”.

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