04, Dec 2020 | CJP Team
The Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) was forced to suspend its hunger strike on its 11th day, as the health condition of KPSS president Sanjay Tickoo, who has been spearheading the movement, was getting critical. Tickoo and two other KPSS activists had taken the extreme step of a fast-unto-death as previous demands to implement urgent relief measures for non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits had fallen on the administration’s deaf ears.
A statement released on December 2 reads, “Due to continuous fasting, the health condition of the KPSS President became a critical reason to which the morale of the entire team went down.” After continuous persuasion from the youth activists, Mr. Tickoo suspended his fast, owing to his and other activists’ worsening health.
CJP stands with the KPSS in seeking an immediate redressal of all grievances, jobs for 600 non-migrant KP youth in the Valley, a monthly cash relief package for the most needy families, and preservation of cultural and religious sites in the Valley. Join CJP in this campaign as we stand with the Kashmiri Pandit community in Jammu and Kashmir. To help us advocate for their safety and rights, please donate generously here.
“KPSS does not want to lose its President due to fasting because the UT Government is not sensitive to the miseries of Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits / Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley,” reads the statement.
The statement further states that it has been resolved that Community Meetings will be held in the Valley, and further steps against Union Territory administration in Jammu and Kashmir will be chalked out as they have given “step-motherly treatment to Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits / Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley.”
This is not the first time KPSS has gone on a hunger strike. The earlier fast unto death that began on September 20, 2020, was suspended on September 30, 2020 after “Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar Shri. Shahid Iqbal Chowdhary, IAS on behalf of Administration assured in writing that the Charter of Demands will be discussed in a logical way and all the directions of the Hon’ble High Court read with Parliamentary Standing Committees recommendations and directions issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Union of India will be implemented on the ground zero to mitigate the long pending issues of the Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits / Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley.”
However, when the administration reneged on its promises, KPSS went on a second hunger strike. “Though Hon’ble Prime Minister claims that his government stands for “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas” [Together, for everyone’s growth, with everyone’s trust] but due to the step-motherly treatment from the UT Administration it seems that this phrase excludes Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits / Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley,” said KPSS.
At present there are 808 non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit families living in over 240 locations, mostly in makeshift facilities or refugee camps amidst poverty and squalor in the Valley. At least 150 of these are low-income families who fall below poverty line (BPL). Most struggle for basic expenses like food and medicine.
Security that was earlier provided to members of the community has now been withdrawn and Kashmiri Pandit families, especially vocal community leaders are now left to their own devices to protect themselves. Nearly 600 youth are unemployed. While they had earlier qualified for employment schemes of the government, a delay in implementation of the schemes led close to 100 of them becoming ineligible due to crossing age restrictions.
Their charter of demands is as follows:
- Extension of PM’s Job Package and apportionment of 500 posts / one job per family (preferably) criteria for 808 Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandit / Kashmiri Hindu Families.
- DMRR&R deliberately delayed the process by more than four years as such give one-time age relaxation to all the over-age candidates’ w.e.f. 31.05.2016 (date of the judgment passed by Hon’ble High Court in OWP 1986/2013 titled Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti and others vs. Union of India and others)
- Providing of Accommodation to all deserving Non-Migrant families under PM’s Relief and Rehabilitation Package
- Extension / providing of necessary financial assistance to the 808 Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandit / Kashmiri Hindu families living in Kashmir Valley
- Extension of benefits of Migrant Welfare Fund to the Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits – Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley.
- Constitution of Nodal Agency between UT Government including Relief Department headed by Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir with one member from KPSS Core Committee.
- Protection, Preservation and Restoration of Temples and other religious institutions belonging to the religious minority in Kashmir Valley.