Measures for Repatriation of Estranged Kashmiri Pandits: Omar Abdullah

Friday, April 20th, 2012 | by

The state government of Jammu and Kashmir is considering the implementation of regulations to cater to the protection and management of temples and repatriation of the estranged Kashmiri Pandits.  Regarding the issue of temples, State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah directed the Revenue Department of Kashmir valley to prepare a note regarding the same. Abdullah  was chairing a body of apex advisory board for Kashmiri migrants.

“We know the return of migrants call for a good residential accommodation for them. Those who want to return should get suitable financial assistance to build their houses in the Valley,” said Abdullah, adding that authorities concerned must formulate proposals for an enhanced financial assistance. Only this, he said, will help in the construction of houses for Kashmiri Pandits who plan to return to the Valley. The Chief Minister plans to discuss the matter with the Union Cabinet, which includes a series of measures that will be implemented for the repatriation process.

“Their (migrant’s) school-going children will be entitled to a scholarship of Rs 750 every month. Migrants who wish to return and want to set up income generating units will be entitled for a cash assistance of Rs 5 lakh, of which Rs 2.50 lakh will be as subsidy and the rest recoverable in easy instalments,” said BA Runiyal,  Commissioner Secretary of Revenue. He also stated that  assistance will continue for migrants registered under the ‘relief category’, which will be full-fledged for a span of 2 years. They will be entitled to financial assistance of up to Rs 1 lakh and Rs 1.50 lakh to take up programmes related to agriculture and horticulture.

Runiyal also added that “migrants who had loan outstanding as on January 1, 1990, when they were forced to leave the Valley at the height of militancy, will be entitled for waiver of interest.”

In connection with framing laws for the safety and management of temples, Omar Abdullah said, “You should come up with a note on the subject as early as possible for the clearance of the Cabinet so that the same would be presented to the Governor for promulgation of the Ordinance accordingly.” Omar Abdullah also assured of the Bill being tabled in the forth coming session of the state legislative assembly.

The move comes following recent demonstrations and hunger strikes in the valley in a span of 6 months. The protest was against the illegal sale of temple property, intrusion in the Valley of Kashmir and a demand for the setting up of a trust to look into temple and shrine properties in the state. A series of campaigns were spearheaded by All Party Migrant Coordination committee for formulating a Temple Trust Board. A fast-unto-death was also undertaken by committee chairman Vinood Pandit for 10 days, which led authorities to take notice.

During the course of the meeting, Abdullah issued directives to the Revenue department to embark on ‘Kashmir Darshan’, a tour for migrant students. He also said that priority must be for those making their maiden visit to the Valley. “This will help them interact with students and learn different aspects and significance of the Valley,” he said, making a mention that the Valley has, of late, been witnessing a more secure scenario.

Abdullah also stated that officials were directed with the creation of 3000 additional posts for children of Kashmiri migrants, who plan to work in the valley, following the completion of their studies. The Chief Minister pointed out that 1,500 migrant youths had returned to the valley in search of jobs.

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