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‘Saath Do’:After 30 years, Muslims, Pandits to hold joint rally in Srinagar

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Crowd of protesters people. Silhouettes of people with banners and megaphones. Concept of revolution or protest. Vector

Srinagar, Feb 24: For the first time in the last 30 years, Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits will lead a joint march and hoist around one lakh white flags to “promote peace, pluralism and coexistence” in the valley.

Come Friday, Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims will lead a ‘Saath Do’ rally from Batamaloo which will crisscross through downtown before culminating at the Press Club. 


Organized jointly by Bollywood’s singer of `Murder 2’ fame Saim Bhat, and Satish Mahaldar, Chairman Reconciliation, Return and Rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants, the rally is aimed at “building bridges and promoting peace and pluralism” in the valley.

“It is the first such initiative in the past 30 years. It is about peace. Our mothers and daughters are crying. They are living in fear. Let us shun everything and join hands for peace. For God’s sake let us bring peace to the valley”, said Mahaldar.

More than 150 people will be marching on bikes and cars through downtown before dispersing at Polo View. “Since it is a first initiative, we are not expecting a big crowd. People from Shopian, Kulgam, Budgam and other places will join us.   We will march on bikes and cars and meet people en route. ”, he said.

The highlight of the rally will be hoisting of white flags to symbolize peace. Organizers have distributed white flags among the people for hoisting atop their houses, shops and other places.

“People will hoist flags individually on their houses and shops across the valley.  We have arranged flags and distributed them among the people for the event”, said Mahaldar.

The sub text of the rally is to set the stage for the return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homes. “Let us bring Kashmiri Pandits back to the valley. Idea of India is incomplete without the return of Kashmiri Pandits. It is not about Kashmiri Pandits, but Sikhs and Muslims too have migrated. It has brought bad name to the valley. Let us bring them back and rebuild our image”, he said.

Official figures reveal that around 41,117 migrant families from Kashmir are registered in Jammu, and 21,000 others in Delhi and other states. Of the total migrant families living in Jammu, 37,128 are Hindus, 2,246 Muslims and 1,758 Sikhs.

Figures released by Kashmir Pandit Sangrash Simiti (KPSS), an apex body of non-migrant Pandits, reveal that there are 808 Kashmir Pandit families comprising 3464 people residing in the valley. Non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits are living in 292 locations and most of them are putting up in four districts of south Kashmir.

The return of the Kashmiri migrants to valley was a part of the 2008 Prime Minister financial package of Rs 1618 crore.  Under this package Rs 7.5 lakh financial assistance was to be given to any family which will undertake renovation/reconstruction of their houses located in the valley. Besides other things, nearly 6000 government jobs were to be provided to Kashmiri Pandits in the valley.