Maria Syed

Srinagar, Apr 8: Dubbing them as “townships of hatred”, both pro- and anti-India leaders in Jammu and Kashmir Wednesday opposed building composite townships for migrant Kashmir Pandits.

“We won’t allow these townships of hatred and will oppose it tooth and nail,” the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Muhammad Yasin Malik said at a presser here.

Yasin Malik on Kashmiri PanditsHowever, he said migrant Kashmiri Pandits have every right to return to their ancestral land.

“Pandits form an integral part and parcel of our nation. Every pro-freedom leader has appealed them to return home. Senior Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani has also appealed them to return to their homes,” he added.

Hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani termed setting up of proposed separate townships for Kashmiri Pandits as “surrender by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed before the Centre.”

“The surrender of Sayeed before Home Minister Rajnath Singh over setting up of separate townships for Kashmiri pandits is surprising and unfortunate,” Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani said in a statement.

Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said his faction would make every attempt to resist such type of “ploys to divide people in the name of religion”.

Malik said creating separate townships for pandits is inspired by Israeli tactics in Palestine and labelled it as part of Hindu-right wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) plan to create communal divide in Kashmir.

“Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed married RSS for power in Kashmir. His assurance to union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to acquire land for so-called composite townships is part of a bigger conspiracy to stoke communal fires in Kashmir,” Malik said.

He said the state has a history of communal tolerance and mutual co-existence, which was even acknowledged by Mahatma Gandhi in 1947, when the entire sub-continent was gripped by communal violence.

Opposition National Conference said the party was against any separate “homeland” within the Valley.

“We don’t believe in separate homeland and National Conference (NC) does not support it. Centre’s decision is not important. It should be accepted by the people. What is the purpose if it creates differences among the people of the Valley,” senior NC leader Ali Mohammed Sagar said.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh yesterday asked state Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed for identifying land for creating composite townships for 62,000 displaced pandit families who had left the state at the onset of militancy in early 1990s.

Sayeed had assured that the state government will soon acquire land for creating “composite townships” for them.

NC spokesman told PTI news agency that the party was against any ghettos as they will be prone to attacks from militant groups. “Why do you want to create a spate of cantonment type colonies in the Valley?” the spokesman asked.

However, a government said that the creation of exclusive enclaves for migrants, as was done at Sheikhpora, Budgam, has not worked as most of the Pandits who wanted to return to the Valley preferred to resettle at their ancestral places.

The spokesman described as “misconstrued, misconceived and mischievous” the reports of exclusive habitations for Kashmiri Pandits, and said the society and the Government is committed to facilitate reintegration of migrant Pandits in their homeland with honor and dignity without compartmentalizing them as an isolated community.

“The migrants from all the communities who have no land and properties left in Kashmir, can be accommodated in the composite township, if they desire so,” the spokesman said.

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