No Pandit township under consideration: Govt

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New Delhi: No plan for creation of exclusive zones for Kashmiri pandits is under consideration, the government informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday putting to rest controversy revolving separate township for the displaced community.

Replying to a question put forward by nine MPs whether there is any proposal to create separate zones for Kashmiri Pandits, Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said, “No proposal to create separate zones exclusively for the Kashmiri pandits in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is under consideration.”

This puts to rest the controversy surrounding recent reports that government was planning to build composite townships for Kashmir pandits in the Valley. The opposition National Conference in the state as well as separatists groups have opposed building of exclusively township for Kashmiri pandits. However, the state

government had said that the township will have mixed population of pandits, Muslims, Sikhs as well as Buddhists from Ladakh.

Replying to written questions about rehabilitation of Kashmiri pandits, Chaudhary informed that Kashmiri migrants are being paid an enhanced cash relief from Rs 1,650 to Rs 2,550 per head from May 1.

The ceiling for cash relief per family was enhanced from Rs 6,600 to Rs 10,000. This is being paid to nearly 21,700 of the 62,000 families who have been registered as Kashmiri migrants.

The present number of registered Kashmir migrant families which mostly include Kashmiri pandits, Sikhs and some Muslim is 62,000 out of which 40,668 are registered in Jammu, 19,338 in Delhi and 2000 in other parts of the country.

The minister also informed the House that a variety of measures have been taken over the years by way of financial assistance. Under the Prime Minister’s package of 2004, as many as 5242 two-room tenements have been constructed in Jammu at four locations which have been alloted to the migrants.

Further, 200 flats have been constructed in Budgam district in Kashmir Valley which have been allotted on a sharing basis to those migrants who have joined the government services.

In 2008, the government announced Rs 1618.40 crore package for return and rehabilitation of the Kashmir migrants and under this scheme 1553 migrants youths have been provided with jobs and one family has availed the benefit of Rs 7.5 lakh for construction of house.

Welcome step: Mirwaiz, Civil Society

Srinagar: Reacting to Ministry of Home Affairs decision that no separate townships for Kashmiri Pandits were under its consideration, Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq termed it a welcome step, saying KPs should be rehabilitated and settled in mixed habitations.

“We welcome any rehabilitation package for KPs but no separate settlements. Thus GoI’s decision is welcome step. We will welcome KPs like our own brothers, they have nothing to fear here but we are against any settlements in Kashmir valley”, Mirwaiz said adding that KPs are the part and parcel of Kashmir’s society and belong to this land like other natives.

Eminent member of the Civil Society Shakeel Qalandar welcomed GoI’s decision as it has put to rest all the controversy regarding this issue. “We welcome this decision. Though we will still seek some clarifications from the state Government”, Qalandar said adding that whole Kashmir was waiting for KPs to return and people of Valley would offer them full logistic support.

Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers President Mohammad Sadiq Baqal also welcomed the Centre’s announcement. “We have been saying this from the beginning. We welcome Pandits but not by force but by choice. It seems wise counsel has finally prevailed”, Baqal said.

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