The central government has informed Parliament that there was no proposal for setting up separate colonies for Kashmiri Pandits in J&K. Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said this while replying to a written question from Ashwini Kumar of Congress in Lok Sabha. He also made it clear there was no proposal for setting up Sainik Colonies in the state. Similarly, in another reply, he also made it clear that there was no “specific proposal” of providing “nativity and identity certificate” to West Pakistan refugees under the consideration of J&K government. However, both the statements are confusing as earlier both the statements by the leaders, policies and the efforts have been made to the contrary. Only a month ago, the state government distributed identity certificates to the West Pakistan Refugees. And the government defended the move arguing these had been issued to facilitate that the refugees get jobs in central government departments and the .defence forces. Similarly, the Kashmiri Pandit issue has been a lingering bone of contention between the political groups in Valley and New Delhi. Early last year, the issues of West Pakistan Refugees and the Kashmiri Pandits hogged the limelight and were thus a factor in the turmoil that followed the killing of popular militant commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani.
The year had begun, as usual, with the talk of the separate enclaves for Kashmiri Pandits, which was seen by Hurriyat as a replication of the Israeli settlements in Palestine. The move was followed by an officially sanctioned proposal to establish a Sainik Colony for ex-servicemen and their kin in Srinagar. And while the political storm over the colony was roiling the Valley, came the revelation that the New Industrial Policy drawn up by the Governor N N Vohra during his three months at the helm, allowed non-state subjects to get on lease the land for setting up industries outside the industrial estates in the state. The policy was silent on the upper ceiling of the land to be leased. And then there were a spate of court cases challenging the state’s special constitutional status. The paranoia this generated hit the critical mass when Burhan Wani was killed.
In recent past, the controversy over the grant of ‘identity certificates’ to West Pakistan Refugees followed by a new case being filed in High Court re-ignited a sense of de javu and put the situation on a fresh simmer. What is more, the Government both in the state and at the centre have generally been indifferent to the tragic fallout of the latest uprising, let alone the need to address the fundamental political dimension of the situation. However, this hardly detracts from the twin statements of MoS Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir. Does the union governments going back on the Pandit settlements and the denial that there is a plan to issue the nativity certificates to the West Pakistan Refugees signal change in a contentious policy? It suggests so. But it will be a welcome development, if this change is for real
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