27, Nov 2020 | CJP Team
On Friday, November 27, the fast-unto-death by members of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) entered its sixth day. It is noteworthy that this is the second time in two months that non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit community members have been forced to go on strike in the Valley demanding that the Union Territory administration implement various relief measures as mandated by the courts and approved by the government.
Frustrated with administrative apathy, KPSS issued a statement saying that non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits, a minority community, in the state “have become non-entity for the ruling party who used to praise our sacrifices in political rallies to grab the position in the power corridors. Now, the same lot is taking revenge from us for staying back in Kashmir Valley and treating us with indifference and have turned blind and deaf towards our miseries which are deliberately induced to destroy our existence in Kashmir Valley.”
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 has now called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and ensure that relief measures and government schemes pertaining to providing employment and economic assistance to members of the impoverished and marginalised community are implemented swiftly. The statement says, “It is a known phrase for all that “Modi hai to mumkin hai” [It is possible, if Modi is there]. So Hon’ble Narendrea Modi Ji, either implement what you propagate “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas” [Together, for everyone’s growth, with everyone’s trust] by taking action against the persons who are working against the ethos of the orders and directions issued by the Central Government and directions issued by Hon’ble High Court or gather all the left out Kashmiri Pandits / Kashmiri Hindus at one place in Kashmir Valley and test firing power of newly purchased Rafale Aircrafts on us and free us from the miserable life which we are facing due to some persons from the ruling party cadres and morally corrupt bureaucracy as KPSS feel cheated and back stabbed by the Administration of UT for not adhering to their own promises and commitments that were expressively and verbally conveyed to us during the First phase of Fast-Unto-Death Pledge.”
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.
The KPSS is demanding not only financial aid, but also swift implementation of government employment schemes. CJP has been supporting KPSS, which is it partner organisation, in their quest for Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley.
KPSS had previously gone on a similar hunger strike on September 20, 2020. It was called off after written assurance from Shahid Iqbal Chowdhary, IAS who is the Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, that their demands would be looked into by the administration. But the UT authorities allegedly failed to walk the talk and now KPSS president Sanjay Tickoo, and two other members Sandeep Koul and Bhupender Singh Jamwal are on a hunger strike.
KPSS had, since June 2020, sent over 100 memoranda to the UT authorities showcasing the plight of the community, many of whose members are living on the brink or abject penury. KPSS had also previously made a series of serious allegations of willful neglect and corruption against members of the Disaster Management Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (DMRR&R) Department. KPSS says that these officials have failed to implement the relief measures despite an October 2016 order from the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and also an order from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had on June 23 asked them to expedite the selection process for jobs for eligible non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit youths as per the government scheme.
The 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 Sanghrash 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.