This month marked 26 years of the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the valley after rise in militancy and amid threats & fear of persecution. While successive governments have claimed to have done a lot for the Kashmiri Pandits, the Pandits are still unhappy with every political party in power. Here is a list of claims made by the Government of India for the relief & rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits.
This month marked 26 years of the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the valley after rise in militancy and amid threats & fear of persecution. Since then, the issue of rehabilitation of the pandits has been a reason for another political slugfest. Every party that took reigns at the center has promised to do justice to them. Even after 26 years of the mass exodus, the prominent voice of the Pandits, actor Anupam Kher has said that every political party failed them when it came to rehabilitation.
But what does the government have to say about all this? In reply to an application under RTI, the Union Home Ministry has listed the steps taken by the Government of India for rehabilitation and justice to the Kashmiri Pandits since 1998.
More than 5000 two room tenements
According to MHA, a total of 5242 two room tenements were constructed under the Prime Minister’s package 2004 in four different locations of Jammu (Purkhoo, Muthi, Nagrota & Jagti). The reply also says that these were allotted to the migrants who were living in various one room tenements, government buildings & temples etc in Jammu. The MHA also claimed that 200 flats were constructed in Sheikhpora of Budgam district and allotted on a sharing basis to the migrants who joined the government service under the employment component of Prime Minister’s package -2008.
Comprehensive Package of 2008
MHA says that the government has announced a comprehensive package of Rs 1618.4 crore in 2008 for the return and rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Pandits. This amount was to be used for multiple purposes like
- Financial assistance for purchase/construction/repair of houses
- Construction of transit accommodation
- Continuation of Cash Relief
- Scholarship to students
- State Government jobs to 3000 Kashmiri Pandits
- Assistance for self employment
- Assistance to agriculture & horticulture including waiver of interest on unpaid loans
The MHA says that 1963 pandits have been provided state government jobs till November 2015 under this scheme. It also says that only one family has availed the benefit of Rs 7.5 lakh for the construction of a house. 469 transit accommodations have also been constructed under the scheme.
Cash Relief to families living in Jammu & Delhi
In the year 1990, the Jammu & Kashmir government provided cash relief of Rs 250/- per family and free ration after registering the migrant families. With effect from 1st May 2015, the cash relief has been enhanced to Rs 2500/- per head per month (subject to a maximum of Rs 10000/- per family per month). The cash relief is said to be provided to the eligible 18250 families in Jammu and 3385 families in Delhi.
Security Related Expenditure for Return & Rehabilitation (SRE)
The expenditure incurred by the Government of Jammu & Kashmir is reimbursed by the Government of India under Security Related Expenditure for Return & Rehabilitation (SRE). Since 1989-90, a total of 1579 crore rupees have been provided to the Government of J & K by the Central Government under this head.
Claims versus Reality
There has to be a detailed enquiry to understand if the claims of the government are true. But a cursory glance at the list of beneficiaries of the SRE under Return & Rehabilitation of the Poonch District reveals a very sorry picture. Not a single Pandit has received any benefit under this scheme in the Poonch District.