Press Trust of india

Political parties in J&K back KP, Dogra employees’ demands for relocation from Kashmir

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Jammu: All major political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, including the BJP, have come out openly in support of Kashmiri Pandit and Dogra employees and backed their demands for “relocation” from Kashmir in view of targeted killings by militants and a transfer policy.

The National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Apni Party and others criticised the Union territory administration over the “step-motherly treatment and bureaucratic indifference” to the employees sitting on protests for the past eight months.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s recent remarks that reserved category (Dogra) employees cannot be transferred to Jammu and those (KP employees) sitting at home will not get salaries drew sharp reactions from these parties.

The BJP reacted angrily to Sinha’s remarks and said these employees will not be made “sacrificial goats”.

The Congress said it will make it the main issue when its Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi reaches Jammu and Kashmir early next year. The party also plans to hold protests on the issue, its leader Hira Lal Pandita said.

“It is a shameful statement of LG. On the one hand the government is not in a position to provide foolproof security to these employees nor has provided accommodations to them in last over 10 years, and on the other hand it is making them scapegoats by forcing them to join their duties in valley where they have no security to their lives,” Pandita was quoted as saying by PTI.

Reacting to these employees’ demands, former chief minister and NC president Farooq Abdullah said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi must call an all-party meeting on this issue. Don’t make Kashmiri Pandits sacrificial lambs if you can’t provide security to them. Kashmiri Pandit employees shouldn’t be forced to return and resume duties in the Valley.”

Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina said, “We reiterate that we back their demands. We stand firmly by the Kashmiri Pandit and reserved category (Dogra) employees. Come what may, we are with them.”

He said senior party leaders had met the protesting employees and would share their report and brief BJP national president J P Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah.

“Let me tell you we will not allow you to become sacrificial goats. You cannot perform duties in such a situation,” he told the employees.

Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday also came out in support of these employees.

“If there is a threat even to one life, it is better to save that life even if it means closing down a dozen offices,” he said.

BJP national general secretary and in-charge for Jammu and Kashmir Tarun Chugh also raised the issue of threat to the lives of Kashmiri Pandits, saying they have been targeted by terrorists from 1990 till today.

BJP leader Devender Rana promised the Dogra employees that a transfer policy will be framed and no one from Jammu be made “guinea pig”.

“Come what may, transfer policy will be framed. We will make it happen or else will leave,” he said.

Referring to the protesting reserved category employees who are also camping in Jammu and demanding their relocation, LG Sinha on Wednesday said, “They should also keep in mind that they are Kashmir Division employees and cannot be transferred to Jammu.”

He asserted that all necessary measures have been taken for the safety of minority community employees including Kashmiri Pandits serving in the Valley, and sent out a “loud and clear” message to those protesting for transfer – no salary for sitting at home.

Sinha had made the remarks amid the protests by Kashmiri Pandit employees and Jammu-based reserved category employees who left the Valley for Jammu in May following the targeted killings of their two colleagues — Rahul Bhat and Rajni Bala.

The protesting employees have been seeking relocation outside Kashmir. A resident of Samba district, Bala was shot dead by terrorists at a school in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on May 31. Bhat, a clerk, was shot dead inside the Tehsildar’s office in Chadoora Tehsil of Budgam district.

The spate of targeted killings in Kashmir started in May this year.

Scores of Kashmiri Pandits, who were employed under the Prime Minister’s package in 2012, have been staging protests since the killing of Rahul Bhat.

Former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday again said Pandit employees posted in the Valley should be temporarily transferred to Jammu to save their lives.

“A decision has to be taken as per the situation. When the situation improves, they (KP employees) should come back. But currently, there is fear in the minds of these employees. For the time being, they should be transferred to Jammu so that their lives can be saved. Why should they be killed?” he questioned.

Azad was speaking to reporters after a rally in Anantnag district, 55 kilometres from here.

Azad said incidents of targeted killings that have taken place in the past one year have resulted in a situation that Kashmiri Pandit employees posted here do not want to stay.

“How will the other KPs come back in such a situation?” he asked.

Azad also claimed it was during his tenure as chief minister that 6,000 posts were sanctioned under the PM’s Package for KPs.

“It was in my tenure that the Jagti township came up, the accommodation at Budgam and other places was also built under the double shift work,” he added.

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti has said that instead of giving an ultimatum to Kashmiri Pandit employees to join their duty, the Jammu and Kashmir administration should chalk out a middle path taking into consideration the recent targeted killings in the Valley.

Mufti said, “The administration needs to know their problems and try to resolve them. Giving an ultimatum to join otherwise, your salaries will be stopped is wrong.”

“Everyone, including the Pandits, has suffered a lot but the government should take into consideration the recent (targeted) killings of the community members.” Mufti said.

Asserting that warnings only complicate issues rather than solving them, senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader M Y Tarigami on Monday suggested dialogue with the protesting employees who are seeking their relocation outside Kashmir in the wake of targeted killings.

“They are caught in a hapless situation and need a sympathetic and humanitarian approach to address their demands. The warnings are not given to our own people, it further complicates the situation,” Tarigami, who is also convener and spokesperson of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), said.

He said the minority employees are feeling insecure and “they (administration) is saying that they are not going to listen to them”.

“…Learn to conduct business with your own people by holding dialogue and made them satisfy if you think the situation is normal in the valley, though it is otherwise.”

The former legislator said the PAGD delegation met the LG in May over the targeted killings and told him to ensure adequate security to them so that they can feel secure.

PAGD, an amalgam of five political parties – NC, PDP, CPI(M), CPM and Awami National Conference — is campaigning for restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir ended by the Centre on August 05, 2019.

“The elementary demand of every citizen is protection of their life and property. We stand with the protesting employees and want the government to ensure a safe environment for them to perform their duties normally,” Tarigami said.

Asked about the statement of Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Kashmiri Pandits that it is better to save precious human life even if it means closing down a dozen offices, he said the remark is absolutely in contradiction with the statement of the LG.

“Let them sit together and reach a consensus about what to speak or not,” the CPI(M) leader said.

He also dismissed the administration’s claims about restoration of normalcy in the valley. “There are no indicators suggesting expression of normalcy.”

“If there is normalcy, what is stopping them from holding Assembly elections, why are the Pandit employees forced to flee en masse and why are they being threatened to return to their duties?” he asked.

Tarigami also said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and other central government agencies are going house-to-house and the people are being booked under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) and shifted to jails outside the valley.

“If the situation is normal, why do they not go for removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)? Journalists are not free to work or make critical analyses of the situation,” he said.

The Aam Aadmi Party asked the LG and the BJP government at the Centre to give priority to security of Kashmiri Pandits. The AAP also extended its full support to the relocation demand of Kashmiri Pandits and special package employees, senior party leader M K Yogi said. (With inputs from PTI)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *