Jammu, Apr 9: A day after it faced criticism from opposition and separatists, Jammu and Kashmir government has made a U-turn on the controversial plan for composite townships in the Valley for displaced Kashmiri pandits.
J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed told in J&K Assembly on Thursday that no separate clusters would be made for settlement of Kashmiri Pandits.
"No separate clusters would be made for settlement of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley. I have told Union Home Minister that Kashmiri Pandits cannot live separately in the Valley and they will have to live together in the society," Mufti Sayeed said in the Assembly.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Government said Kashimiri Pandits would be settled at their native places and "not as an isolated community".
A massive controversy kicked-off after the PDP-BJP Government on Wednesday assured the Centre that it will soon acquire and provide land at the earliest for creating "composite townships" for displaced Kashmiri migrants in the Valley. [J&K: Parties up in arms against Composite townships for 'Kashmiri Pandits']
The assurance was given by CM Sayeed when he called on Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi for the first time after taking oath on March one.
The main opposition party National Conference(NC) and the Valley-based political leaders and separatist groups had flayed the state government and the Centre for the move.
"It's clear that the Kashmiri pandits are a part and parcel of the traditional Kashmiri ethos and they would be reintegrated into their native place as a part of the society and not as an isolated community," a state government spokesman said in a release on Wednesday evening.
On the composite townships, the spokesman claimed that it was meant for only those people of the community who have no land and properties left in Kashmir.
These people "can be accommodated in the composite township, if they desire so," the spokesman said.
The spokesman discounted as "misconstrued, misconceived and mischievous" the impression being created by certain quarters regarding establishment of exclusive habitations for Kashmiri Pandits.
"The society and the Government is committed to facilitate reintegration of migrant pandits in their homeland with honour and dignity without compartmentalizing them as an isolated community," he said.
He said the creation of exclusive enclaves for migrants, as was done at Sheikhpora, Budgam, has not worked as most of the pandits who wanted to return to the Valley preferred to resettle at their ancestral places.
"The Government is keenly awaiting the return of migrants and they will be resettled at their original places of inhabitation with honour and dignity," the spokesman said.
As has been already made clear by the Chief Minister, the migrant pandits are most welcome to return and resettle at the places of their choice, and various initiatives have already been taken by the State Government to bring them back with honour and dignity, the spokesman said.
He said braving the hazards of turmoil in Kashmir, several Kashmiri pandit families continue to live harmoniously with their Muslim brethren in various parts of the Valley.
"The Kashmiri Pandits have every right to return to their ancestral land and get reintegrated in the society to revive the age-old tradition of brotherhood and amity," he said and added that any facility for the purpose wont be either religion or community-specific.
Sayeed, while replying to the motion of thanks on Governor's address in the state assembly, had also said that he will construct Jagti-type flats for Kashmiri pandits in the Valley, a statement which had been criticised by NC working President and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
(With inputs from PTI)