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NC passes resolution for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits

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Nothing can stop the displaced Kashmiri Pandits from returning to their native land: Farooq Abdullah

Jammu: The minority cell of National Conference on Saturday passed three resolutions, which among others called for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrant Pandits in the Valley and their political empowerment.

The resolutions, which also demanded passage of a bill for managing the affairs of temples and shrines of the community, were presented at the start of the day-long convention chaired by party president Farooq Abdullah here.

“The Kashmiri migrant Pandit community is yearning for their honourable return and rehabilitation for the past three decades. The issue is very important,” senior leader Anil Dhar said as he presented the “politically important” resolutions that were passed by a voice vote.

He said the National Conference (NC) is the only party that can ensure return and rehabilitation of the Pandits in the Valley.

“Abdullah should guide the Government of India, which failed to make any headway in this direction till date. We have the roadmap and we are ready to share it with the Centre,” he said.

Speaking about the first resolution, Dhar said the NC is the only party that had given true representation to the community politically since its inception.

“We had members of legislative assembly, members of legislative council and ministers among the Kashmiri Pandits from the National Conference. The community is displaced and needs to be empowered politically,” he said.

Another resolution demanded passage of the “temples and shrines” bill which, he said, is an important issue and a long-pending demand of the community.

“Being a Member of Parliament, we request the NC president to raise the issue and attract the attention of the government (for the passage of the bill),” he said.

President of NC minority cell M K Yogi said the massive turnout of Kashmiri Pandits, including women, at the convention should serve as an eye-opener to those who try to project that the community is not with the party.

“National Conference is the only party that can address all the issues of the Pandits,” he said.

The convention also expressed grief over the tragic death of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu.

General Rawat, his wife Madhulika and 11 other people on board an Indian Air Force helicopter died in a crash near Coonoor on Wednesday.

“We stand with the country and the army at this hour of grief,” a party leader said.

Meanwhile, National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah said on Saturday that nothing can stop the displaced Kashmiri Pandits from returning to their native land and the conspirators of their “ethnic cleansing” will never get Jammu and Kashmir.

He, however, said time was not ripe for their return because of the hatred between two communities in the Valley that is “deliberately created” over the years by the “vested interests” for political gains.

“(Kashmiri) Muslims did not drive you out from your homes…those behind it were thinking Kashmir will be theirs by this ethnic cleansing. I repeat from this stage… even if the sky and the earth meet, Jammu and Kashmir will never be theirs,” the former chief minister said in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

Addressing a gathering largely comprising migrant Pandits at a one-day convention organised by NC’s minority cell here, Abdullah said the community was being used as a “vote bank” by a political party that only claims to be its sympathiser.

Without naming any party, Abdullah said, “Big promises were made to you by those treating you as just a vote bank. They have not fulfilled a single promise.”

Abdullah, who recalled his long association with the Kashmiri Pandits, said the hatred which has crept into the hearts needs to be removed.

“We have to identify those who want to divide us for their petty political interests. Our culture, language and way of living is the same and we are one. I have never distinguished between a Hindu and a Muslim,” the NC leader said.

Referring to the migration of the Pandits, he said, “Nobody wants to name (former governor) Jagmohan who arranged transport (for their migration) and promised to ensure their return within two months…instead allegations are levelled against me.”

“I am praying to my Allah not to take me away till I see the return of those old days when there was communal harmony and peaceful atmosphere in the valley and the people moved freely without being asked to show their identity,” he said.

The former chief minister said he had made several attempts during his government to bring back the community but had to stop the process in the wake of massacres in Ganderbal and Budgam as, “I do not want the blood of innocents on my hands.”

He said it is not the right time for their return because of the hatred which has crept into the hearts.

Abdullah called on the two communities to stand together and reject those dividing them on the basis of religion.

Abdullah said the NC brought temples and shrines bill to safeguard the places of worship of the community which was, however, not supported by those who claim to be the communities’ defenders.

In an apparent reference to the BJP, he said they enjoy the numbers in the Parliament and can pass it anytime “but I know they will not do it.”

“Same is the case with the women rights bill which is pending as there are people who do not want to empower women,” he added.

Farooq advocates Indo-Pak talks

National Conference president Farooq Abdullah Saturday said there is no way out except holding talks with Pakistan to end militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.

He also took exception to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s statement that the practice of offering ‘Namaz’ in the open “will not be tolerated” and asked him to provide spaces to Muslims for prayers as the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

The former J&K chief minister was talking to reporters on the sidelines of a party function here.

Reacting to a question about the killing of two policemen by militants in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district on Friday, Abdullah said, “…you think we are happy that they are killing people? It is a sad story and let the government who are saying everything is hunky dory (speak). Is it hunky dory? Are people safe? When your police personnel are not safe, how is an ordinary man be safe?”

The two personnel were killed in a militant attack on a police party in Bandipora district on Friday, evoking widespread condemnation from various political parties. The militants opened fire on the police team at the Gulshan Chowk in the evening.

Asked if he still insisted on talks with Pakistan, Abdullah retorted, “You have to talk. There is no way out (to end militancy).”

“You can talk to China. What do you say about that? China is coming and occupying our territory. They are making their own houses in that territory. Let the Government of India allow discussion in the parliament to understand what the Chinese are doing,” the NC MP from Srinagar said.

When a reporter asked him if, by insisting on talks with Pakistan, “he was giving a clean chit to Pakistani terrorists who are killing people”, a visibly angry Abdullah said, “You are not a journalist. Your attitude is communal.”

In response to a question about the Haryana chief minister’s statement, Abdullah said there is a religious tolerance in the country and the Constitution also provides religious freedom.

“If he does not allow prayers in open space, let him create a space where they can pray. Pray they have to, that is why open spaces are used because there is no place (for Namaz),” he said.

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