“The Kashmiri Pandit and the Ram temple are an issue for the BJP. BJP people do nothing for both, just create ruckus. When not in power, we are our biggest benefactors, but forget us as soon as you come to power, ”says Sanjay Raina, who lives in Pandit Colony in Sheikhpura, Srinagar.
Sanjay Raina is one of those Kashmiri Pandits whose family left their homes and left Kashmir during the violence. But he has returned to Kashmir after getting a job under the Prime Minister’s Package during the UPA government.
Sanjay, who was the president of Pandit Colony of Sheikhpura, expressed his displeasure with the BJP and says, “Now see, Lok Sabha elections are near, they have remembered the Ram temple. Kashmiri Pandits will also be remembered in a few days. The central government is to complete five years. The BJP remained in power in Jammu and Kashmir as an ally for almost three years, but did nothing for us (Kashmiri Pandits). Whatever the UPA government had done, this government also did not carry forward. ”
Reason for displeasure with Modi government
Srinagar is bathed in whitewash due to continuous snowfall. People are troubled by cold. After the mild sunshine, some children were found playing with snow at the gate of Pandit Colony of Sheikhpura. Some Muslim boys and girls are also among the children. A guard is present at the gate of Pandit Colony. There are many shops next to the guard room.
Sunny Bhatt (who has been changed due to being a government employee) arrived at one of these shops to fetch milk, saying that we had high hopes from the BJP government. We thought that if the BJP came to power, then the days of Kashmiri Pandits would return. But even today, we are forced to live under the shadow of fear. The jobs that were to be got under the Prime Minister package have not been completed even ten years after the release of the package. The real issue was our permanent rehabilitation, it did not happen. Rather, the real name of where we live is ‘Traffic Camp’. As long as there is a job, we are in this government colony. The government can also expel us from this place after the job is over.
Actor Anupam Kher, who has repeatedly praised PM Narendra Modi, also criticized the Modi government for ignoring the Kashmiri Pandits. Anupam Kher had said, “The government should have come to anyone in the country, but if any community has been ignored, they are Kashmiri Pandits. The Modi government also did nothing for the Kashmiri Pandits. ”Anupam Kher has been speaking on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits for a long time.
What was the PM package?
When Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister during UPA-1, the government announced a package for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in 2008-09. The purpose of this package was to re-settle the Kashmiri Pandits who were homeless and left behind everything in Kashmir during the violence. Under this, apart from giving him a job, his stay was also arranged. About Rs 1,600 crore was provisioned by the central government at that time under the scheme.
With this step of the UPA government, the hopes of Kashmiri Pandits returning to the valley once again became stronger. But if we look at the data of Kashmiri Pandits, local people and government’s PM package, it can be said that till date nominal Kashmiri Pandits have been rehabilitated in the valley.
The PM package promised to provide jobs to the youth, but today, when almost 10 years have passed since the release of the PM package, the youth have not been able to get jobs. For which there are demonstrations on the day.
Commissioner of Relief and Rehabilitation (Migrants) Department of Kashmir Government, Farooq Ahmad Shah told Newslaundry that Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs and Muslims who left Kashmir due to violence have been given jobs under the Prime Minister’s Package. In the first year 2008-09, 3,000 jobs were created under this scheme. In this, three thousand people were selected by the year 2014. Appointment was also given to most people. Some also had a dispute in the court which ended in 2017.
Farooq Ahmad Shah further says, the government again announced 3,000 jobs in 2015. We were working fast on this. About fifteen hundred people were also selected. But then the people of the Sikh community went to the High Court and this entire process was stayed. We hope that once the stay is removed, the process of appointing people will start.
Sikh community resentment and high court ban
The Sikh community in Kashmir is demanding minority status for itself. A Sikh leader associated with the BJP says on the condition of anonymity, “Pandits as well as people from the Sikh community were also targeted in the valley during the violence. Many Sikhs were killed. Hundreds of Sikh families were also among those who left the valley. But some families still exist in the valley. We are a minority here, but we do not get any benefit from any government scheme. ”
He says, “When the Manmohan Singh government announced the PM package, it was only for the Pandits. We are also suffering. Even today the Sikh community lives here under the shadow of fear. Recently a sarpanch named Sarman Jeet Singh was killed. His mistake was that he did not boycott the election. Participated in elections and won. ”
When the Sikh community did not get any benefit, they reached the court to get a share in the PM package. Hearing the petition filed on behalf of the community, the High Court in December 2017 has directed to ban any appointment under the special package of the Prime Minister.
On the High Court stay, Mir Javed Mustafa, who was the Minister of Disaster Management, Relief and Rehabilitation in the BJP and PDP governments, says that the people of the Sikh community here said that we should also bring this package inside. Stayed on that foundation. After talking to the Sikh community, we wrote to the Central Government that they should also be given something in the package. By then we only did the government.
Movement for PM package
There have been many agitations to implement the PM package. Young Kashmiri Pandits living in Delhi had agitated outside Raj Bhavan recently. There was a demand of the agitating youth that they should be given jobs as soon as possible.
Ashwini Kumar Charangu, head of Panun Kashmir, an organization fighting for the rights of Kashmiri Pandits, tells Newslaundry, “We had expectations from this government more than other governments. Can not say that the Modi government did nothing for the Kashmiri Pandits. This government has increased the pension of Rs 6600 per month to displaced Kashmiri families to Rs 10,000. ”
Ashwini Kumar Charangu further adds, “But we have not got jobs yet. On the other hand, for years our demand is that those responsible for the massacre of Kashmiri Pandits should be punished. Who killed the Kashmiri Pandits is well known. But so far no one has been sentenced in this case. It would not have happened in the history of the world that so many people have been killed, but no one is responsible for it. ”