NEW DELHI, MAR 31: Terming reconciliation as the building block for bringing in peace and social equity in the State, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti today stressed upon the need for a multilevel engagement to sort out issues in Jammu & Kashmir and appealed to the members of Kashmiri Pandit community to return back home taking it as a call from the motherland.
Addressing a gathering of Kashmiri Pandits here today, the Chief Minister said given the tough times Jammu & Kashmir is passing through it needs the reconciliatory approach at all levels to sort out issues as acrimony does not lead anywhere. She said wars, as in the past, are no solution to any problem given the quantum of destruction these are supposed to bring.
This is for the first time since their migration some three decades ago, the Chief Minister conducted an outreach programme of this kind at New Delhi to listen to the problems of Kashmiri Pandit migrants at their own place.
Mehbooba Mufti reminded the audience the soothing change this approach of rapprochement brought in the State when her Party’s Government took over in 2002. “Routes were opened, talks held and even many of you returned back because these peace efforts resulted into a consequent dip in violence in the State”, she told the gathering.
The policy of rapprochement, the Chief Minister said, as adopted by the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee needs to be kept alive and taken forward. Reconciliation, and not acrimony, is the way ahead, she said while advocating opening of historic routes across Jammu & Kashmir so that the State becomes a gateway to Central Asia as it used to be in the past. “An idea has to be replaced with a better idea. Why can’t the Sharda Peeth, which has been an ancient seat of learning, be thrown open to people? Why can’t our country, using our locational advantage, take benefit of all economic activities going on in the region to embark on a new path of progress, equity and peace? Wars and acrimony only add up scars but the peaceful engagements bring home the much needed healing”, she said in her address.
The Chief Minister said Kashmir without Kashmiri Pandits is as incomplete as are Kashmiri Pandits without Kashmir. She said the joint ethos and cultural moorings of Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits could not be erased even with the passage of time as these are something unique in the present day world.
Describing the plea for their return back to Kashmir as a call from motherland, Mehbooba Mufti told the gathering to respond to it as someone who responds to the cries of a mother in pain. “You may say that many of you are now settled outside, some of them with good corporate packages. But I would say it’s a call from your motherland ‘Mouj Kashir’ who asks you to come back and help in restoring back the social order which got disturbed with your unfortunate migration”, she told the gathering while making an emotional appeal for their return back.
“Don’t wait for the return of ideal conditions, we have to create these jointly”, she told the gathering. “Your Muslim brethren are fighting a situation there, come back and let us fight shoulder to shoulder”, she said adding while the members of Pandit community had to leave their homes unfortunately, their Muslim brethren suffered equally with deaths and destruction.
The Chief Minister said that though the successive Governments in Jammu & Kashmir did a lot for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandit migrant community but it cannot match the return back to their homes and hearths which she said is the earnest desire of every Kashmiri Muslim. She said her Government, acknowledging the role of Kashmiri Pandit families who stayed in Kashmir but got forgotten in the discourse, decided to reserve some posts for them in recruitment process so that they don’t feel left out.
Responding to the demands raised by several members of the community, Mehbooba Mufti said she would get the issues of difficulty in registration of migrants and their state subject issues looked into and if need be post an officer at New Delhi for the purpose. She also assured to look into the issues of medical insurance, hike in monthly relief and distant posting of some female staff at J&K Bank New Delhi.
The Chief Minister invited the young children of Kashmiri Pandits to visit Kashmir so that they can get familiarised with the land they belong to and where their parents were born and brought up. She said whatever arrangements are needed would be made by her Government.
Former Deputy Speaker of Legislative Assembly and Vice President PDP, Muhammad Sartaj Madni also addressed the gathering and recalled the cherished relations between Muslims and Pandits in Kashmir. He also highlighted the need for frequent interactions between the members of two communities so that the bond of amity is shifted to younger generation.