Rashid Paul

Pandits of Haal Pulwama resent separate Hindu colony in village

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Say they want to return to live with and among their Muslim neighbours

Haal, Pulwama, Aug 26: After preserving their paddy farms and houses for three decades, Kashmiri Pandits (displaced as well as domicile) from this village are again up in arms against the latest proposal by the government to set up a walled neighborhood for their community in the area.

Referring a communication number DCP-SB/16/380-40 of 2016 from the office of the Deputy Commissioner Pulwama ( a copy of which lies with his newspaper), Sanjay Bhat, said that the government is hell-bent on uprooting the Pandits of Kashmir and creating a permanent break between them and the Muslim community.

According to the official communiqué which was recently displayed on the walls of a shop in the village, almost 96 kanals of land have been identified for construction of separate housing colony for the Pandits in Haal.

Twenty three kanals and 14 malras identified for the detached colony have been classified as proprietary land and the rest as ‘Aabadi Deh’ in the official document.

Coincidentally, all the identified land belongs to the Pandit households who once dominated this village, almost eight kilometers from Pulwama district headquarters.

Bhat, who shifted to the Jammu region with the onset of militancy in 1990 longs to return to his village? “I want to do farming on my ancestral land and live alongside my Muslim neighbors.”

Interestingly, Sanjay Bhat has been in touch with his Muslim neighbors at Haal all along these three decades of displacement.

“Alas my land is being taken away by the government for constructing a separate colony for Hindus,”he said.

A price of rupees 2.20 lakh has been fixed for his land by the district collector.

“Height of the official apathy is that even the classification of my proprietary land has been changed in to Abadi Deh, which reduces my claim on the land to just a tenant,” he added.

Prof Bhushan Koul, living in New Delhi, says that creation of walled neighborhoods for Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) in the name of transit accommodation is a political deception.

“Kashmir has a composite culture that values tolerance amid communities. To revive that tradition, a genuine political process is required.  Kashmiri Pandits can live a normal life only in a conflict-free Kashmir and normalcy can simply flow out of a political solution,” Koul says.

“Creating the monsters of separate homelands will generate perpetual suspicion and animosity between Muslims and pundits of Kashmir”, said Koul, a former professor of law at Delhi University.

Anita Pandit, who chose to stay in the village despite unfavorable conditions, says that she has no qualms with her Muslim neighbors.

“They have been beside me through the thick and thin of the past thirty years,” she said.

“However the government plan of separate accommodation will tear up the community. We will never allow this ploy to wipe us out. This can happen only over my dead body,” she asserted.

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