Tuesday, June 27, 2017
 
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Back in political calculation, Pandits’ return

By B L Saraf


Like seasonal cycle following a pattern, the displaced Pandit is caught in an ever revolving political ‘period cycle ‘ which for him, is seldom on the rise but often remains low. Relegated to the footnote of the times, when political correctness demands Pandit is recalled to the Centre-stage, and then, unceremoniously, reverted back to the place after selective inconvenience begins to show up.


At present, luck is smiling on the Pandit : political tide seems to be on high rise for him. This started with the unanimous Resolution passed by the State Legislature, committing the political class to make a serious effort for the dignified return of the internally displaced community. Then came the statement of MOS in the PMO. Talking to the reporters on the sidelines of conference organized by KP joint action committee, on 12th February, Dr Jitendra Singh said ” The Union Government is ready to discuss any aspect of return including the homeland with Pandits provided the community evolved a consensus on that …….. Modi Government is for dignified and honorable return and rehabilitation of KPs in Valley as per their aspirations….. .” Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti “asked for inclusion of non- migrant Kashmiri Pandits in the welfare endeavor of the Government. She also directed provision of the basic facilities of health care and education at the transit accommodation centers in the Kashmir Valley where members of the community are presently putting up.”


Taken together, these development, coming in quick succession, carry a positive connotation. They, undoubtedly, constitute “a statement of the intent.” The displaced community has taken them in a right spirit. Nonetheless the community cannot be faulted for seeking a substantive forward movement of the “intent ” by addressing some of its ‘doable ‘ concerns.


Kashmiri Pandits have great faith in PM Narendra Modi. Even though he is half way through his term they still nurse a hope that he will deliver them from the woods. MOS Jitendra Singh has, undoubtedly, proved a well-wisher of the displaced community – one who has stood by it when required. The combination of a redeemer and a well-wisher should auger well for the community.


We appreciate the point made by the MOS that whether it is building clusters or having a homeland in Kashmir he should be told “what is to be set up” and that projection of the demand must be backed up by a community consensus. But at the same time we feel that by living in a democratic set up and the temperament people are made of, a consensus or a near one is hard to achieve on any issue, much less on the vexed one under reference . In the given situation it is indeed a big ask to place onus for building such a consensus wholly, on the Pandits. It requires an all-out effort on the part of all the actors involved. Governments, both in J&K and of Delhi will have to facilitate such an endeavor. We hope that the Unanimous Resolution of the State Legislature may come handy in the situation.


Something which is quite germane to the point needs to be said. Pandits are quite appreciative of Dr Jitendra Singh’s honest intentions. But they have a reservation! How will State react if Kashmiri Pandit’s consensus comes around a model of rehabilitation that dictates their living in a specified geographic portion of the Valley which may not match the “feasibility and achievability quotient “of some persons living there. And what, if for implementation of the model the Governments – of state and the Centre, don’t show any enthusiasm? When it comes to the fullfling of ‘aspirations ‘ of the displaced persons an element of unholy competition cannot be ruled out. After all our friends across the Banihal Tunnel also talk of unfulfilled aspirations. Thus in the competitive business of fulling aspirations whole game for the Pandit will be lost. And, then, we have Omar Abdullah, currently, telling Americans via Harvard University that Kashmir is an unresolved political issue, wherein Pakistan has a interest. He told them ” trade, development and operational processes through administrative mechanisms could not replace a lasting political solution to ‘K’ issue. The issue in Kashmir is inherently one of political nature and requires broad – based and credible approach…” He has, understandably, brought in Pakistan in the reckoning by saying ” New Delhi and Pakistan needed to rise above domestic challenge and politics and play sober and result – oriented roles to reach a mutually acceptable lasting and sustainable solution.” In resolution of the ‘political issue’ where will that model of rehabilitation fit in ? The thought is more for the displaced persons to deliberate upon than anybody else, how so high he may be in the political hierarchy.


While acknowledging the concern of the MOS, it must be said that conflicting signals emanating from State and the Central Governments won’t help the cause. State Minister of Relief and Rehabilitation informed Assembly, in the last session, that 273 acres of land have been identified by the respective Deputy Commissioners in the Valley for construction of dwelling places for the returning migrants. Then came statement from the Union Home Ministry that no such land has been earmarked for the Pandits. The matter gets complicated when return of the displaced community is clubbed with proposal of a separate Sainik Colony in the Valley. That spoils the game.
Consensus building is good. How far will State help in evolving one and then ensure its fruition is a moot question? But then hope sustains life. One must be eternally hopeful.



(The author is a Former Principal District & Sessions Judge. Feedback- [email protected] )





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