The election manifesto of the BJP Government for the last six years has been addressing the issue of Kashmiri Migrants, time and again. But in reality, the government seems to have overlooked the immigrant crisis quite conveniently under the banner of new acts and policies.
According to the Kashmiri Pandits, no measures have been taken to rehabilitate their community to the valley, either physically or economically. The story of their plight traces back to 1989, in the month of December, when the members of the Hindu Community were ousted from their homes in Jammu and Kashmir, overnight. Known as the Exodus, many Kashmiri Hindus became victims of the Genocide that claimed lives of thousands, destroyed their houses and property and ravaged their livelihood. The Kashmiri Hindus say that when the big announcement of the genocide broke on several media platforms, the then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed played a silent role. The Indian Army had also been complicit in pulling the Hindus out from their homes, instead of ensuring their safety back in their homeland.
In their minds, it became etched as an instance of ethnic cleansing based on identity politics. Many still claim to live the horror that rendered them homeless, even today.
The Centre on August 5 had scrapped the provisions of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two u Following this, Kashmir had been under siege for almost six months. The region was put under lockdown and communication services were completely withdrawn in the name of averting tensions and using reasons of security. The communications blackout, particularly characterized by shutdown of the Internet services is the longest standing anywhere in the world. The leaders were put under house arrest. Anyone who opposed the government measure were either detained or arrested to muzzle voices of dissent.
This has only added to the angst of both the Kashmiris in the state as well as those in other parts of the country, who remained stranded and could not reach out to their friends and families for months. The clampdown was also reported with violence that broke out across Jammu and Kashmir.
The Pandits, a section of whom are based in the National Capital, blame the BJP for indifference and inaction to their situation.
In a press meet held in New Delhi, The Chairman of Reconciliation, Return and Rehabilitations, Satish Mahaldar accused the present government of politicizing the Kashmir issue to secure their vote bank. He said that Kashmiri Hindus feel like 'refugees' in their own country. He added that recently, a group of Union Ministers paid a visit to the state, but none visited the camps where the Kashmiri Pandits are living.
He also said the centre has promised Rs 80,000 crore for the development of Jammu Kashmir but no specific funds or resources have been allocated by the government for the welfare and benefits of the Kasmiri pandits.
Mahaldar was quoted saying that the Kashmiri Pandits feel left out as in the recent past, the Government has put efforts to rehabilitate refugees from West Pakistan, while turning a blind eye to its own citizens.
Now, with the amendment of the Citizenship Act, in which persecuted minorities from neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are now being granted citizenship rights to India, Mahaldar said that the reconciliation with the Pandits remains neglected.. He strongly believes that justice has not been served to the minority in the valley any way.
Despite this, many still aspire to go back and settle down in the valley. They anticipate government help and support in their repatriation. The larger question, however remains, with the nearing of Delhi elections, will Kashmir remain just another issue of contention or will the results impact the lives of the Kashmiri Pandits, who demand security and stability from the current government.