Farooq Abdullah Bats For Return of Pandits

Jammu: Nothing can stop the displaced Kashmiri Pandits from returning to their native land and the conspirators of their “ethnic cleansing” will never get Jammu and Kashmir, National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah said on Saturday.

He, however, said time was not ripe for their return because of the hatred between two communities in the valley that was “deliberately created” over the years by the vested interests for political gains.

(Kashmiri) Muslims did not drive you out from your homes, those behind it were thinking Kashmir will be theirs by this ethnic cleansing. I repeat from this stage… even if the sky and the earth meet, Jammu and Kashmir will never be theirs, the former chief minister said in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

Kashmiri Pandits migrated from the valley after the outbreak of militancy in early 1990s.

Addressing a gathering largely comprising migrant Pandits at a one-day convention organised by NC’s minority cell here, Abdullah said the community was being used as a vote bank by a political party that only claims to be its sympathiser.

Without naming any party, Abdullah said, big promises were made to you by those treating you as just a vote bank. They have not fulfilled a single promise.
Abdullah, who recalled his long association with the Kashmiri Pandits, said the hatred which has crept into the hearts needs to be removed.

We have to identify those who want to divide us for their petty political interests. Our culture, language and way of living is the same and we are one. I have never distinguished between a Hindu and a Muslim, the NC leader said.

Referring to the migration of the Pandits, he said, Nobody wants to name (former governor) Jagmohan who arranged transport (for their migration) and promised to ensure their return within two months…instead allegations are levelled against me.

I am praying to my Allah not to take me away till I see the return of those old days when there was communal harmony and peaceful atmosphere in the valley and the people moved freely without being asked to show their identity, he said.

The former chief minister said he had made several attempts during his government to bring back the community but had to stop the process in the wake of massacres in Ganderbal and Budgam as, I do not want the blood of innocents on my hands.

He said it is not the right time for their return because of the hatred which has crept into the hearts.

We cannot live in peace as our enemies will use that hatred and attempt to create further wedge among us. I request you with folded hands to give up this hatred and pray to the Lord to unite us again, he said.

Abdullah called on the two communities to stand together and reject those dividing them on the basis of religion.

We should introspect and assess who has the habit of ‘use and throw’ and reject such parties, he said, citing the example of senior BJP leader Varun Gandhi and claiming that the latter had now become irrelevant for his party.

I am not asking for votes for my party but want you to think before you cast your vote at the time of the election. Choose those parties that seek votes on their work and not on the basis of religion, he said.

He lauded Kashmiri Pandits for safeguarding their culture and language even in migration.

Abdullah said the NC brought temples and shrines bill to safeguard the places of worship of the community which was, however, not supported by those who claim to be the communities’ defenders.

They enjoy the numbers in the Parliament and can pass it anytime but I know they will not do it, he said, adding, Same is the case with the women rights bill which is pending as there are people who do not want to empower women.

Referring to the raising of national flags on important days, he said, It should be hoisted by heart without the use of power or through agents.

Lauding the people of Jammu for providing shelter to the Pandits in the aftermath of their migration from the valley, he supported continuation of the ‘Darbar move’, a long practice under which the civil secretariat functions six months each in Srinagar and Jammu.

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