Kashmiri Pandits ask for government support

Jammu, Jan 19 (ANI): Members of the Hindu Kashmiri Pandit community, living in exile for more than two decades, said on Wednesday that their struggle for survival is losing without the government's efforts for their welfare.

Amid plans of rehabilitation in small apartments on the outskirts of Jammu, they claim the government has acted too little too late.

"At present there is Nagrota camp, Purkhoo camp, Mishriwala camp, Muthi phase one camp. At least 3,000 families are languishing in camps here. They are living here for the past 20 years. In the same camp, the government had also made a kitchen in the same room. For over 20 years we have been living a hellish life in these camps. The Indian government should be ashamed," said Manoj Tickoo.

"In 21 years, half our life is already gone. Whatever is left is on the promise of Jagti apartments. Jagti is only one-room set, not a two-room set. If guests come, would we tell them to sleep in the kitchen? Here in the camps, as well, if we have to change clothes, we ask the men to leave and then we change," said Dolly Raina.

Interlocutors appointed by the Indian government have sought to bring down violence in the region by interacting with different communities, and exploring possible options in the state where tens of thousands have died since armed rebellion broke out in 1989.

Many refugees who managed to get their family members educated and settled outside Kashmir said no financial stability would make them forget the violent nights that still haunt them, and nothing would be able to remove the pain.

Refugees living in New Delhi said they wanted to return to their homeland, but it must be unconditional and not attached to economic packages.

"The same slogans we heard in 1990, the posters pasted on our doors, are the ones we again saw recently in the Valley against minorities. If the government makes plans for our rehabilitation, we will go. I have never refused to go back to my homeland. But how do we go back? To which homes would we go to? Our community has been turned into a graveyard, the lands changed into bus-stands," said Rakesh Kaul, President of Kashmiri Samiti Delhi.

The Supreme Court last month asked the Omar Abdullah's Government to detail steps it had taken to construct houses to facilitate the return of Kashmiri migrants under the centrally sponsored Rs 16.18 billion programme for their rehabilitation. (ANI)

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