Resettlement of Kashmiri Pandit Employees

Resettlement of Kashmiri Pandit employees should be a civilian movement taken for all the Kashmiri migrants as a whole
Kashmiri Pandits PM Package employees during a protest against the killing of a fellow woman employee in Batwara area of Srinagar on Tuesday May 31, 2022. The employees have been asking for transfer from valley amid spike in targeted killings here.[Representational Image]
Kashmiri Pandits PM Package employees during a protest against the killing of a fellow woman employee in Batwara area of Srinagar on Tuesday May 31, 2022. The employees have been asking for transfer from valley amid spike in targeted killings here.[Representational Image] File: Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Over a couple of months, the issue regarding the resettlement of Kashmiri Pandit employees has become a bone of contention between migrant employees and the JKUT Government.

Since the last six months, these employees have not reported to their respective places of posting due to the targeted killing of their loved ones.

Notably, all these employees who have been appointed under the PM package since 2010 have served in the valley and reportedly never faced apprehensions of threat and warnings. The targeted killings of minorities happened post abrogation when violence taken a different turn in Kashmir.

To encourage the resettlement of Kashmiri migrants back to their ancestral place in Kashmir Valley, the central government not only provides jobs under PM Package but also provide accommodation facilities to help those families which were desirous of settling back at their original place or residence.

Out of 6000 posts under PM Package, nearly 4020 Kashmiri Migrants have been resettled and rehabilitated directly by way of providing government employment.

These employees are working in various districts of Kashmir Valley. Purposefully, the aim behind the PM package was to resettle and rehabilitate migrants in Kashmir for this government has construct separate colonies for their revival in their motherland initially.

Undoubtedly, circumstance after abrogation became more dangerous and challenging. It is not a street protestor, stone palter but a killer of innocent people that is difficult to identify.

This situation is worse and it has targeted minorities this time. They are not fighting with security forces as we are witnessing from last two years. They kill unarmed people. This kind of situation is grim for the people, and security as well.

Pandit employees have been a soft target for them now. More than 27 employees have been killed so far. Situation for them is not favorable. JKUT need to create conducive environment for them. Job is their right and security the responsibility of the government.

Providing individual security is impossible, but to chalk out their permanent return is the need of hour which is not possible in months but takes years together wherein Pandit community have to take a lead for their resettlement which has not been seen so far in last 32 years?

Various attempts are made to bring them back. Before bringing them back to the valley we must invest our energies in analyzing the possible steps which would persuade them to return to the valley. Firstly, their will (willingness) is must, and then we should try to remove fear from their minds so that they will get ready to come back and join their duties. For this purpose, we need to achieve a sustainable resettlement policy for this community.

Secondly, we must start an inter-communal dialogue. Muslim community particularly youth should be involved in the process. We need to create an ecosystem wherein the resettlement of our Pandit brethren will flourish and no anti-social element can afford to cause any sort of harm to them.

Events to promote dialogue between the two communities, tolerance, and mutual understanding among the members of both communities coming from different backgrounds need to be conducted before their arrival so that a suitable atmosphere is created.

For this purpose field functionaries of Revenue and Rural Development (Patwaris and VLWs) should be given basic training on inter-communal dialogue, tolerance, and peace-building followed by a community-based action so that these field functionaries can promote values, implement their knowledge and transmit it to the community at the grassroots level. We may call this exercise “Back to Roots”. In every village community interaction, events must be organized and meetings between the two communities should be conducted at the initial stage of their arrival.

Third, PRI’s need to be taken into consideration. Being local representatives they can provide every assistance and support at community level. Discussions and debates in this regard need to be held immediately by the government with all local PRIs for the resettlement of Kashmiri Migrant employees.

Their involvement in the parts of Kashmir will establish contact, revive social setup and rejuvenate culture. Pandit community should be part of associations, forums, and members of political, social, and religious groups at the local level. Their communal harmony, religious places, friendship, relationships and above all trust should be evolved in the local societies, villages and towns where they live for generations.

Fourth important point is to take younger generation on board. Reportedly, they are not willing as there is a gap of two decades. To bridge the gap, they need to visit valley and meet the younger generation of Kashmiri people.

Interchange of dialogue between the younger generations will help them in understanding their culture, tradition and ethos. The gap of thirty years made them hateful and feared about Kashmiri people, that is why these young people aged 20 years are not willing to resettle in Kashmir.

Fifth, there should be frequent tours and melas on the religious places of Pandit people.

Pandit brothers should organize forums, groups and associations for engaging and associating with already existing groups, associations and forums of the Muslim community for involvement in politics, social setups, and social order and into social groups.

They need to be reconstituted and rehabilitated in society as a member. Government should frame a policy to resettle them in their native villages under an existing policy.

At the end of the day, their return is possible only when government start a civilian movement for their return, when Pandit people as a whole take this challenge in reviving coordination, cooperation and contact with local people in Kashmir, when government accommodate them suitably within the local communities not in isolated groups.

Pandit people after exodus sold their homes and properties and became migrants in their own land but avail jobs and other parks from the government from time to time.

Jobs under PM package were only for those who are desirous to work in Kashmir and revival for their resettlement. Government with best possible effort arranges their rehabilitation since 2010.

Last two years was challenging for both. The government can initially seek opinion from the general public, and intellectuals of Kashmiri people regarding their rehabilitation and resettlement which is only possible if Kashmiri Pandits are willing to come.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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