For over thirty years after the exodus began in the Valley, an estimated 808 Kashmiri Pandit families didn’t migrate from Kashmir. They stayed back. While the successive governments announced job and rehabilitation packages for migrant Kashmiri Pandits, these 808 families were ignored. But nothing disheartened them. They formed an organisation called Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti. Headed by one of respected voices within the community, Sanjay Tickoo, the organisation has been highlighting concerns of Kashmiri pandits and Kashmiris in general, but they never thought of migration. Now, for the first time in 30 years, Kashmiri Pandits living in the Valley have filed a petition in the High Court seeking the Court to order the government move them to safer places as they are feeling threatened.
The petition filed by Sanjay Tickoo, says the Jammu and Kashmir administration and the Central government have failed to protect minority in the Valley. Guided by “ulterior motives”, they are not allowing Kashmiri migrant Pandits to move to Jammu.
“The UT and Central administration has failed to protect the lives of the religious minorities in Kashmir Valley. The administration at the same time does not let them leave Kashmir Valley,” the PIL says.
“Kashmiri Pandits / Hindus want to leave Kashmir Valley but the Government is not allowing them to leave. The government blocked the roads, used electric currents to barricade the walls of the transit camps, the main doors of the transit camps are closed from outside with locks,” the petition reads.
It says the administration has created an atmosphere of depression among the religious minorities living in Kashmir Valley. It alleges one person has died due to depression as the administration is playing with the lives of the religious minorities.
Giving historical account of Kashmiri Pandit migration and of those who stayed back in the Valley, Tickoo says in 1990, due to political turmoil and armed insurgency induced by one of the neighbouring countries, Kashmiri Pandits living in Kashmir Valley were targeted and killed to create fear leading to the mass migration of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley.
The petition says after nearly 20 years in 2010, a process of rehabilitation was initiated by the government for migrant Kashmiri Pandits. But Kashmiri Pandits living in the Valley were ignored in the rehabilitation process.
The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to Jammu and Kashmir on April 25, 2008, announced a package for “return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants” who wish to return to the Valley. Subsequently, a special package of Rs. 1,618.40 crore was sanctioned by the Government of India for the return and rehabilitation of the migrants. Initially, under this scheme, 3,000 supernumerary posts were created exclusively for the Kashmiri migrants willing to return to the Valley.
It also included Rs 7.5 lakh for repair and reconstruction of houses, transit accommodation, Rs 5000 a cash relief, jobs educated among migrant youth in the State Government service and other benefits. Subsequently, the job quota was increased by the government for Kashmiri migrants.
“In the process, Kashmiri Pandit Migrants were given jobs and accommodation so that they could come and stay in Kashmir Valley. Since 2020 a new spree of target killings started and the fear has increased many folds among the members of the religious minorities living in Kashmir Valley including those who never left Valley,” Tickoo’s petition reads.
“Nearly twelve attacks have been done on the local religious minorities living in Kashmir Valley apart from those who came to Kashmir for their bread and butter.”
The petition says the killings started from June 8, 2020 when Ajay Pandita Bharti, a sarpanch in an Anantnag village, was killed. The petition says that posters and letters issued by militant organizations have also warned of killing Pandits living in the Valley.
“From May 12, 20222 the Kashmiri Pandits are on protest in Kashmir Valley against the killings of the religious minorities in Kashmir Valley but the Government failed to protect these lives as on May 31,
2022 another employee from Religious Minority was killed by the terrorist in Kulgam District causing more fear and panic.”
The petition also says that some blue-eyed persons who have access to the power corridors of the present UT and the Central administration managed the posting of their “kiths and kins” outside the Valley despite the fact they were also appointed under the PM’s Package which does not permit outside Kashmir posting. It clearly indicates that the administration was aware that the situation in Kashmir was not conducive for religious minorities.