'Nothing in J&K Budget for rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits'


New Delhi, May 5 (IANS): An advocacy group for migrants has urged the Centre to immediately allocate Rs three lakh crore budget towards the physical and economic rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Pandits in the current financial year with special provisions.

Satish Mahaldar, Chairman, Reconciliation, Return and Rehabilitations of Migrants has asked the Central government to immediately notify the land towards the physical rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits across 10 districts of the Kashmir Valley.

The Kashmiri Pandit Migrants should be rehabilitated as per their parliamentary constituency specified on their migrant cards, he said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"The first victim of terrorism in Kashmir, the miniscule minority of Kashmiri Pandits has been suffering for the past 30 years in exile. Many promises have been made to us in all these 30 years. Our case has become a part of the electoral strategy for some and we are also the highlighted victim case of Pakistan's terror strategy on the international fronts. But the community till date has not seen a concrete policy that talks about our economic upliftment, educational and constitutional guarantees and our return to the valley," the letter said.

It was highlighted that even this year's budget -- J&K Budget, 2020 -- does not have anything for Kashmiri Pandits for their physical and economic rehabilitation, relief and welfare. "We feel that we have been betrayed. Our constitutional and fundamental rights have not been ensured and protected," the letter said.

In the budget, during the current financial year, Rs 1705 crore has been disbursed through DBT to 45 lakh beneficiaries. 60,000 new pension cases shall be covered through Direct Benefit Transfer. "But, till date not a single Kashmiri Pandit has got any benefit under this Scheme", Mahaldar said.

J&K has a rich source of cultural heritage sites and Rs 100 crore has been earmarked in 2020 budget for preservation of cultural heritages. Union Minister of State Kishen Reddy had earlier said that Rs 5,000 crore would be spent towards the restoration of temples. In Kashmir, there are more than 1,387 temples and heritage sites which are more than 3,000 years old.

"But, there is no mention of any temple being restored. Most of the temples are appoximately 5,000 years old and as referred in the Rajtrangani, the oldest recorded history book on Kashmir. Till date no list of the temples has been published which are going to be restored as per the priority in the current financial year", he added.

The Union Finance Minister has proposed the introduction of following three religious circuits, Shankaracharya, Mata Khir Bhawani and Martand (Mattan).

"Why not Hari Parbat? Mata Chakreshwari is the creator of the Kashmir land, which is more than 5,200 years old and has a reference in the Rajtrangani .

"Why not the Shiv temple of Baramulla, which also has a mention in the Rajtrangani, Sharda temple of Kupwara and Jawala ji temple in Khrew. These four temple sites should also be inducted in the current tourism circuit with immediate effect", he added.

It is proposed the Central government to generate 350 lakh days of wage employment under MGNREGA. "But, under this scheme not a single Kashmiri Pandit has been enrolled and none benefitted till date. They should be included under this scheme immediately", Mahaldar claimed.

"Almost six years have passed for the Modi-led government, but no proposal has been made by the Government of India to return and rehabilitate the Kashmiri Pandits in the valley", he added.

A volunteer group of 419 Kashmiri Pandit families had been promised land and house in Kashmir as part of the return and rehabilitation process, but nothing has been done in this regard. Around 100 Kashmiri Pandit non migrant families are living in Kashmir. They are living in rented accommodation. They should also be included in this package, he added.

  

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