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Pandits sceptical about J&K Assembly resolution, doubt Omar's sincerity

Suhas Munshi | Updated on: 11 February 2017, 5:46 IST

A few days ago, the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly passed a resolution, seeking the return of Kashmiri Pandits and other minorities to the state, 27 years after their exodus.

What does this resolution mean? Is it mere political posturing, or could it be a step towards the eventual rehabilitation of the displaced minorities?

To try and understand it better, Catch spoke to Sanjay Tickoo, the head of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), an organisation of Valley-based Kashmiri Pandits. Excerpts:

Do you think Omar Abudullah's introducing this resolution calling for the return of all the minorities is an important first step? How seriously do you look at it?

First of all, resolutions passed in the Assembly don't matter. So many resolutions have been passed before. A recent resolution was passed by the Assembly on autonomy, what happened to that?

This resolution doesn't matter because nothing has changed on the ground.

The National Conference had supported the call given by separatists against townships for us. The same party has now introduced this proposal. How can we trust it?

Over time, living in the Valley, do you think the public atmosphere has changed? Do you feel the situation is more conducive to the return of Kashmiri Pandits than it was a few years ago?

All these years later, through several rounds of violence and upheaval, the majority community has not even agreed upon the circumstances in which we left. They still feel our exodus was part of some grand conspiracy hatched by the then-Governor, Jagmohan.

The majority community of Kashmir doesn't still acknowledge that Kashmiri Pandits living in the Valley at that time were under mortal threat. They feel betrayed by Kashmiri Pandits. Our part of the story hasn't been heard till now.

People across the Valley, and the nation, haven't accepted that the law and order situation was allowed to deteriorate. The survival of the Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley during 1989-90 and after that was a litmus test for the Indian democracy. And it failed.

Does the National Conference's resolution reflect a demand by its voter base?

I am not sure about that. Kashmir has seen a lot of turmoil of late. There was the Amarnath land row in 2008, then hundreds of deaths after the Tufail Mattoo case in 2010 and so on. The same representatives failed to defuse the tensions then, the party leaders kept themselves in a cage, knowing fully well that the people will have to come to them and not the other way round.

The PDP and the NC decide the agenda and people follow it.

If that's the case, does it mean that the party leaders have taken a stand this time, and hopefully the masses will follow their lead?

I am sceptical about it, simply because no ground action has preceded or succeeded the resolution. If PDP were sincere about it, why didn't it try and mobilise people alongside? Why don't its leaders try and shape public opinion by going to the masses and getting its cadres and supporters to do the same?

Why doesn't the NC cadre work in favour of the resolution? Let it organise rallies, talk about our exodus.

Will Omar Abdullah go to the Kashmiri Pandit families living in his constituency and go door to door campaigning on this issue?

As of now, I don't think this resolution changes any ground realities. I am not sure if it will change the popular perception about the circumstances around our exodus; if it will ensure a groundswell in our favour.

Let them start campaigning about this in Friday assemblies. Let them get support of all the separatists. Only then we'll be sure about sincerity of Omar Abdullah.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

More in Catch

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Kashmiri Muslims host Kashmiri Pandits in bid to welcome them home

First published: 23 January 2017, 1:02 IST
Suhas Munshi @suhasmunshi

He hasn't been to journalism school, as evident by his refusal to end articles with 'ENDS' or 'EOM'. Principal correspondent at Catch, Suhas studied engineering and wrote code for a living before moving to writing mystery-shrouded-pall-of-gloom crime stories. On being accepted as an intern at Livemint in 2010, he etched PRESS onto his scooter. Some more bylines followed in Hindustan Times, Times of India and Mail Today.