Rehabilitate Us Before Giving Domicile Certificates to Others in J&K: Kashmiri Pandits

SRINAGAR: Migrant Kashmiri Pandits on Sunday demanded rehabilitation and return to their homeland before domicile certificates are issued to others in Jammu and Kashmir.

An organization of migrant Kashmiri Pandits, called Reconciliation, Return and Rehabilitation of Migrants, headed by Satish Mahaldar, in a statement on Sunday said, “We demand a halt on the issuance of domicile certificates until Kashmiri Pandits are rehabilitated in the valley.”

“It seems that the Government of India is busy in pleasing non-residents and other refugees at the cost of Kashmiri Pandits.  The present government had said that the migrant and displaced Kashmiri Pandits will be rehabilitated in ten districts of the valley. But so far there has been no movement in this regard,” he said.

We demand that the government of India must immediately come out with the Kashmiri Pandit Rehabilitation Policy. This should be announced before the issuance of domicile certificates to any person. The process of issuing of domicile certificates should be stopped immediately”, the statement read.

The organization said giving domicile certificates to outsiders before rehabilitating migrant Kashmiri Pandits is in violation of democratic, constitutional and humanitarian rights.

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“Our fundamental Rights and constitutional rights have been denied since the last 31 years.  And issuing domicile certificates before settling us back is a violation of all the basic constitutional and human rights,” it said.

“Human rights violations are a major factor in causing the flight of refugees as well as an obstacle to their safety and voluntary return home. Safeguarding human rights in countries of origin is therefore critical both for the prevention and for the solution of refugee problems. Respect for human rights is also essential for the protection of refugees in countries of asylum,” it added.

“Thus a refugee has the right to return to his or her country and enjoy his or her basic human rights. It in turn casts an obligation on the state of origin, the state of refuge and also the international community to create conditions conducive to his voluntary and safe return to the place of origin, and here in our case is Kashmir,” the statement said..

We were rendered refugees in our own country but the status was denied to us.  Rtd. Justice J.S. Verma, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission has observed, “The provisions of the (1951) Refugee Convention and its Protocol can be relied on when there is no conflict with any provisions in the municipal laws”. Fortunately, the judiciary has sought to fulfill the void created by the absence of domestic legislation by its landmark judgments in the area of refugee protection. It extended the guarantee of Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (right to life and liberty) to non-citizens including refugees. The Madras High Court in P. Neduraman and Dr. S. Ramadoss v. Union of India and the State of Tamil Nadu (1992) emphasized the need to guarantee the voluntary character of repatriation. The National Human Rights Commission has also come to the rescue of refugees ‘approaching it with their complaints of violations of human rights.”

“Since the refugee problem is an important aspect of human rights protection, human rights groups, humanitarian organisations, the UNHCR, Governments and U.N. human rights agencies should take a hard look at their respective roles and make coordinated efforts for elimination of human rights abuses and protection of the rights of refugees.”

“The plight of our community is the fodder for many political parties in the country. Our condition is among the main tools that help India to counter Pakistan at several international platforms. But, when it comes to practical steps to be taken in our favour, the government of India has been consistently falling since the last decades. We have hopes from this Modi government, but so far nothing has come out on our rehabilitation policy,” said the statement.

“The majority population leadership of Jammu and Kashmir had failed to protect the rights of people, including rights and respect of the minorities of Kashmir. They also failed to protect the greater autonomy of the state which was given at the time of accession,” it said.

“Kashmir is in dire peril and the first duty of every Kashmiri is to defend his motherland against any intruder. I am sure that god is preparing you for a bigger task and greater responsibilities to we all. There is no reason for feeling any disappointment but you shall always have to keep in view in word & deed how to protect & respect Minorities too,” said the statement.

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