The Jammu and Kashmir government is formulating a policy for the return of Kashmiri Pandits to Kashmir, said Governor Satya Pal Malik in Srinagar at a function organised for the launch of electric buses in Srinagar. “A policy is being formulated and more details will emerge soon, ” Malik told reporters.
The efforts for their return received a major boost last week after a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits, led by Satish Mahaldar, met senior separatist leader and chairman of a faction of Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, at his residence. The delegation told Mirwaiz that hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits wanted to return to the valley and sought his help in making their return possible.
The delegation was in Kashmir in connection with the annual festival of Mata Kheer Bhawani at Tulmul, 27km from Srinagar. The festival attracts Kashmiri Pandits from all over the country every year.
The delegation told Mirwaiz that land should be identified in Kashmir at different places for the construction of flats for Pandits in multi-storeyed apartments. “Mirwaiz and Syed Ali Shah Geelani (veteran separatist) have accepted our proposal and we feel encouraged with their support,” Mahaldar told THE WEEK.
Asked if how they would bring all Kashmiri Pandits on board their proposal, with some calling for carving out a separate homeland in Kashmir for the Pandits, Mahaldar said he was aware of the demands of the “fringe”. “That demand is impractical and unachievable,” he said.
Mirwaiz told THE WEEK that Kashmiri Muslims want their Pandits brethren to return. “This is a humanitarian issue and should be delinked from the resolution of the Kashmir issue,” he said. “We have decided to form an inter-community committee with representation from all sections of the society to take the proposal forward.”
Mahaldar and his group also discussed their plan with Union minister of state for home, Kishan Reddy.
They briefed him about their meeting with Mirwaiz and said he had shown his willingness to help their return to Kashmir. The group told Reddy that 419 Kashmir families are ready to return to Kashmir. The minister told the delegation that the government was committed to the return of Kashmiri Pandits to Kashmir. The delegation also met Kashmir interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma to shore up support for their proposal.