NEW DELHI: An estimated 4.5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits migrated from the valley after militancy reared its ugly head in the state in 1990s. Despite various schemes to bring them back to valley, including the Prime Minister Rehabilitation Plan of 2008 under which Rs 1,600 crore package was granted by the Centre, the efforts have borne no fruit.
On Friday, the J&K government told the Supreme Court that only one Kashimri Pandit family has returned to the Valley, sending a clear message that people are still afraid of going back.
The state government in its affidavit filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes admitted that there has not been much progress in respect of the various components of the Rs 1,600 package except in respect of employment and construction of transit accommodation for the displaced Pandits in the Valley.
“In furtherance of the return and rehabilitation scheme for Kashmiri migrants, the government has taken various initiatives, including inviting applications from those interested in returning to the Valley. In this regard, the government has so far received 6,510 applications but due to lack of consensus among the migrants and their family members, only one family has returned to the valley under the said package,” it said.
The affidavit was filed after the court pulled up the government over its inertia to implement rehabilitation packages for the Pandits. It had asked the state to explain whether it set aside even a single sale of house as illegal since hundreds of houses between 1990-97 belonging to Pandits were sold illegally after they fled the valley.
The state government said that 469 units of transit accommodation have been built for migrant Kashmiris and 3,000 posts were created in various departments for providing employment to the migrant youths interested in working in the valley,
It informed the top court that an additional 3,000 government jobs would be created exclusively for the migrants with assistance from the Centre, which has approved construction of 6,000 units of accommodation in the Valley for them.
The government, however, was mum on whether the distress sale of property by the Pandits was illegal and should be quashed. The court had directed the government to furnish a list of all such properties which were sold by people while leaving the Valley after militancy hit the state.
Under Jammu & Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation, Protection and Restraint on Distress Sales) Act, 1997, a migrant’s assets cannot be soled without getting approval from the revenue commissioner. The Act also empowers the district magistrates (DM) to take over the possession of immovable properties, belonging to migrants.
The government had earlier assured the court that properties auctioned between 1990 to 1997 would be declared “illegal” and restored to owners.
Source: Times of India