Pandits renew homeland demand, UT status for exiled community

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Building pressure on Modi government, representatives of Kashmiri Pandits on Friday met Dineshwar Sharma, the Centre’s special representative for Kashmir, and reiterated their demand for reinstatement in homeland with Union territory status. They demanded that Article 370 and Article 35A be revoked for finding a permanent solution to the vexed Kashmir issue.

The four-member delegation of displaced Kashmiri Pandit community, under the aegis of Panun Kashmir, also asserted before Sharma that the sovereignty of the country is non-negotiable.

“A serious dialogue process should be initiated by the government for the establishment of a separate homeland in Kashmir valley as explicitly demanded in the Margdarshan Resolution of 1991,” said Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, president of Panun Kashmir, who led the delegation.

In a resolution passed by Panun Kashmir in December 1991, Kashmiri Pandits demanded that the Centre create a homeland comprising the regions of the valley to the East and North of river Jhelum. The homeland, according to Panun Kashmir, should have a union territory status where the Constitution of India is made applicable in letter and spirit to ensure right to life, liberty, freedom of expression and faith, equality and rule of law.

“The Article 370 and Article 35A have become an unnecessary baggage of the past errors of the rulers of India; there is a national consensus to review these absurd laws that are in contravention of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution to the citizens of India,” said Chrungoo.

Article 370 recognizes the special status to the state, while Article 35A empowers the J&K government to frame laws to bar all Indians — except original inhabitants — from purchasing immovable property, getting government jobs and availing of state-sponsored scholarship schemes.

“They should be abrogated under the due process of law as soon as possible and the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir state) Order 14th May 1954, since was/is an intentional fraud, be also abrogated along with,” said Chrungoo.

Official figures reveal that around 41,117 migrant families from Kashmir are registered in Jammu and 21,000 others in Delhi and other states. Of the total migrant families living in Jammu, 37,128 are Hindus, 2,246 Muslims and 1,758 Sikhs.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s advisor Professor Amitabh Mattoo said the government is committed for ensuring honorable and safe return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley.

“Late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had the vision that migrants are part of Kashmiriyat and they should return with dignity, as Kashmiri Pandits are an inseparable part of the Kashmiri society, and the inclusive ethos, for which Kashmir has been known for ages, is incomplete without them,” Prof Mattoo further maintained.

Meanwhile, on the fifth day of his Mission J&K, Sharma met cross sections of society in the winter capital on Friday. From Pandits to business leaders, Centre’s interlocutor interacted with several delegations in Jammu on Friday.

Migrant families

  • Official figures reveal around 41,117 migrant families from Kashmir are registered in Jammu and 21,000 others in Delhi and other states.
  • Of the total migrant families living in Jammu, 37,128 are Hindus, 2,246 Muslims and 1,758 Sikhs, the figures reveal.
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