Srinagar: The Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), the Valley’s largest Kashmiri Pandit group, has claimed it is being harassed and isolated by the local administration in the newly-formed Union Territory since the abrogation of Article 370.
The body’s president Sanjay Tickoo has decided to go on a fast-unto-death until its demands are met. Tickoo told ThePrint that if the administration does not pay heed, many among the 808 Kashmiri Pandit families, who decided to remain in the Valley despite the migration of most of the community members due to the onset of militancy, will join the fast.
Among the primary demands of the body are 500 government jobs, which it said had been promised to the community through a High Court ruling in 2016 and directions passed by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The body has made other demands, which include a vigilance inquiry against officials for allegedly stalling relief of non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits, monthly financial aid and accommodation to community members still staying in the Valley and “extension of benefits of Migrant Welfare Fund to the Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits — Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley”.
“KPSS strongly feels that Disaster Management Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (DMRR&R) Department is punishing left out (non-migrant) Kashmiri Pandits — Kashmiri Hindus for staying back in Kashmir Valley. Since the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A, we the non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits are facing harassment and isolation at the hands of the Relief Department,” the body said in a statement.
“Despite multiple directions from Hon’ble High Court and recommendations from the Central Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Relief Department is playing with the life and security of the Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits — Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley,” it added.
More will join fast-unto-death
Tickoo told ThePrint that more members of the community will join the fast-unto-death.
“Two clerks from the Srinagar deputy commissioner’s office came to ask me why I had started the fast. I simply told them my demand,” Tickoo said. “This was on Sunday. Nothing has happened since then. If our demands are not met, other youth from the community will also join in.”
“The relief department has to simply recommend or open up 500 vacancies and yet they are not doing so. Since the abrogations of Article 370, this kind of harassment has only increased,” alleged Tickoo adding that the Pandit body had brought the issue up in a recent meeting they held with the new lieutenant governor of Jammu & Kashmir, Manoj Sinha.
Multiple officials in the J&K administration denied the KPSS’s allegations.
“We will talk on legal terms. Accommodation and other aids under the Special Relief Package is meant for those individuals who migrated from the Valley due to law and order situation and not to persons who did not migrate,” a senior government official said requesting anonymity.
“Yes the demand for the jobs is genuine but in the last two to three years, of the 3,000 government jobs supposed to be given to Kashmiri migrants, 900 have been filled, out of which 16 are those youth who did not migrate,” he added. “We will be soon announcing 2,000 more vacancies and obviously non-migrant Kashmiris will be eligible to apply. Where does the question of harassment arise?”
“We have been in constant touch with the body (KPSS) since so many years and addressed all of their concerns,” a second government official said. “The allegations that they are being harassed and isolated since abrogations of Article 370, or the suggestion made that there is some form of corruption in the department concerned is absolutely untrue.”
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