Jammu: Reiterating his opposition to composite townships for Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed on Friday said his government was committed to bring the displaced community back but ruled out setting up “Israeli-type” separate clusters for their settlement.
“We will not make separate clusters that Israel has set up. Neither we will make that (separate townships) nor they (Kashmiri Pandits) have desired to live in that,” Mufti told the Legislative Council in Jammu on Friday.
“During my previous tenure in 2003, we set up camps for them in Sheikhpura, and some places in Anantnag and Kupwara. They said they cannot live separately. We will bring this community back and integrate in Kashmiri milieu,” he said.
“Kashmiri Pandits are a miniscule community. It is our programme to save the diversity of Kashmir. Our determination is clear to bring them back to Kashmir Valley with respect and dignity,” he said.
Mufti said a total of 7,247 Kashmiri Pandits still live in Kashmir. “Anantnag has 638 Kashmiri Pandits, Ganderbal 151, Pulwama 390 and Budgam 870. They are also not living in separate clusters,” he said.
Giving examples how Kashmiri Pandit families who did not migrate from Kashmir during the period of militancy are living scattered in Valley, Mufti said, “I went to a village in Pahalgam where I saw two Pandit families living at one place and some others at a long distance away. They are spread at different places. They do not have any connectivity.”
“Therefore, it is our mission that if we want to save our composite culture, it will be our utmost endeavour to bring them back to Kashmir. We will have to make conducive atmosphere for it. It will not be possible by hue and cry raised over the issue but to work to strengthen the relations,” the chief minister added.
Ruling alliance partners PDP and BJP expressed different views on composite townships for settlement of Kashmiri Pandits with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday making it clear that the Centre was going ahead with its plan for composite townships for KPs while the chief minister voicing his opposition to such a proposal.