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Our condition has gone from bad to worse in UT: Non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits

Srinagar: Feeling neglected by the successive governments, the miniscule non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit community living in the Valley feel their plight has gone from bad to worse after Jammu and Kashmir was made a union territory (UT).

Despite being given an ‘impression’ that the UT status would pave the way for the return of migrant Pandits, the non-migrants say they continued to feel sidelined.

 

“We were given an impression that there will be drastic changes not only on the developmental front but also within our community. An impression was created that UT status will lead to the return of Kashmiri Pandits. But, on ground, the situation is exactly the opposite and even the plight of non-migrants has gone from bad to worse. The authorities have not even been able to redress the grievances of the non-migrants that stayed back in Kashmir after militancy erupted….how will they bring back the migrants?” Hindu Welfare Society Kashmir (HWSK) president Chunni Lal Bhat told The Kashmir Monitor.

Over 800 non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit families are presently living here and did not migrate out of the Valley after the eruption of militancy more than three decades ago.

Bhat said they were facing problems related to their rehabilitation amid insufficient employment avenues for the youth of the non-migrant community.

“When migration happened, many of us got internally displaced and were forced to live in rented accommodations due to security concerns…..around 43 families got internally displaced ….later, 15-16 families were promised accommodation at Sheikhpora Colony, Budgam. Unfortunately, even that the promise continues to remain unfulfilled despite the completion of the verification process,” said Bhat.

M L Zutshi, a resident of Dahab village in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district, said they had been socially cut-off.

“We have been socially cut off. There are villages that have just one or two Pandit families. We cannot celebrate festivals together and feel lonely at times. We were also given an impression that steps will be taken to rehabilitate us district-wise at the same place so that we live together and do not remain socially cut-off during festivals and other occasions. Unfortunately, nobody seems to care for us,” said Zutshi.

He said the non-migrant youth were facing problems related to their employment.

“Many youth have become over-aged and do not have suitable employment avenues. The government should come up with a scheme for the unemployed youth of the non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit community. They can give the youth soft loans so that they can set up some business. Otherwise, they will be forced to look for employment outside the Valley. Already, only around 800 families are living in Kashmir and we are struggling to keep our centuries old traditions alive….we do not want more to leave,” he added.