Wednesday, January 20, 2010

‘Do not force us to migrate’

Valley Pandits blame govts of ignoring them

Srinagar, Jan 20: Alleging that the Centre and State governments were penalizing the Pandits who stayed in Kashmir when majority members of the community migrated in early 90s, the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) said they will be forced to leave the Valley if ''step-motherly treatment'' to them was not stopped. ''The Centre and State were talking about Kashmiri migrants living in different parts of the country, but ignoring the basic rights of those living in Kashmir despite all odds,'' KPSS chairman Dr. T N Ganjoo told mediapersons after Sheetleshwar Bhairav temple was thrown open for devotees again, after more than two decades today. He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had announced employment and other packages for the Pandits living outside the state.
But, he alleged, there was nothing for those Pandits who did not leave the Valley and remained with their Muslim brethren. ''Though we appreciate the government for the measures being taken to encourage the Pandits to return to their soil, but at the same time we expect that our interests would be taken into consideration too,'' Ganjoo said. He said it was good that the migrants were being paid Rs 3,000 per month besides other benefits, “but what about those who were living here?” “We have about 200 unemployed graduates in the Valley who also need special employment package,” he said, adding that “we do not have the ration cards, accommodation and other basic facilities. ''This is nothing but a punishment for us for not migrating from here,'' he alleged.
He warned that if things will not improve, “we will be forced to migrate now”.
KPSS chairman further said, ''Pandit youths are frustrated because of unemployment though elderly persons are managing the things because of pensions they are getting.'' We cannot force our youths to stay back in Kashmir when they see no future here, Ganjoo said and appealed to government to take measures to provide basic necessities to the community members. Ganjoo also alleged that successive state governments have failed to check the encroachment of temples and other property of the community in the Kashmir Valley. ''Not only this, but the successive governments as well as other local state political parties ignored our concerns with respect to our identity and religious sentiments,'' he alleged. KPSS chairman said the community presented memorandums addressed to Prime Minister, parliamentarians, Chief Minister and top officials of several concerned departments to protect their identity, ancient temples, ‘asthapans’ and ‘ashrams’ in the Valley.
Though it is not possible for the community to safeguard these temples after taking over, KPSS will take local inhabitants around these temples in confidence so that proper check and balance is maintained along with the protection of these religious centers from unscrupulous elements, he maintained. Ganjoo further said the KPSS is going to take other unattended temples into its control, along with their properties with full co-operation from press and the majority community.
The KPSS will again approach the state government through proper channel to investigate the misappropriation of temple properties and funds thereto, he said. KPSS has already constituted a registered trust and Managing Committee of a temple in the city and shortly the Committee will take over the control of the temple. Further, KPSS has constituted three-member committee to approach the Managing Committees of Mosques and seek their cooperation in the re-opening of these temples besides the cleanliness and restoration of the past glory of these temples.

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