The recent rehabilitation scheme for Kashmiri Pandits flagged off by prime minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the Valley found a reflection in the Union budget with finance minister Arun Jaitely announcing a fund of Rs500 crore for the purpose.
This will part of the mega scheme that Union ministry is drawing up with the help of Jammu and Kashmir government and would be unveiled soon. Currently, 60,452 families of Kashmiri Pandits are registered in the country, of which 38,119 are in Jammu, 19,338 in Delhi and 1,995 in other states.
Menawhile, government's Rs500 crore budgetary allocation for the rehabilitation of the exiled community has further widen the gulf between the Kashmiri migrant Pandits and non-migrant Pandits — Kashmiri Hindus who did not migrate at the onset of the militancy — in Jammu and Kashmir.
"First they (Centre) should take care of us and then think of rehabilitating migrants. We too have suffered. We too left our orchards. Our houses too were razed. We faced difficulties alongside with our majority community. Our children too studied in the shadow of fear," said CL Bhat, chief spokesman of Hindu Welfare Society (HWS), an apex body of Kashmiri non-migrant Pandits in Srinagar.
According to the HWS, there are around 650 Kashmiri Pandit families are still living in Valley. Of which around 51 families are displaced within the Valley. Most of them had fled due to the security reasons to safer environs of Srinagar where they are putting up in dingy rented accommodation.
"There are 51 families of displaced families of Kashmir Pandits who have faced many odds since the last 24 years. They left their ancestral places and settled in the city. The government promise of their rehabilitation has proved to be a mirage so far," said Bhat.
What has, however, compounded the problem is the threat by native Kashmiri Pandits to thwart the rehabilitation of migrants in the Valley in case they are left out of the proposed package.
"We are acting as bridge between majority and minority community. First try to strengthen this bridge and then walk on it. We will not allow the implementation of the package for migrants unless the non-migrant Pandits are given their dues. Our members live in isolation in far flung areas. We demand that they too be settled in clusters so that they are not deprived from social activities," said Bhat.
Panun Kashmir, an apex body of migrant Kashmiri Pandits which demands a separate homeland for exiled community, said the budgetary allocation of Rs500 crore for Kashmiri Pandits is a recognition of the issue of displacement and resettlement.
"We would suggest setting up a national level committee (NLC) comprising men from the government and representatives of Kashmiri Pandits to evolve final roadmap keeping in view their geo political aspirations which includes homeland," said Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, president of Panun Kashmir, an apex body of migrant Kashmiri Pandits.
Chrungoo, however, played down the threat of the non-migrant Pandits saying they are part of the fraternity and their interests would be taken care of. "They (non migrant pandits) are part of the overall fraternity issues. So NLC will take care of their issues as well," he said
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh had announced comprehensive package of Rs1618 crore for Kashmir Pandits in 2008. But despite that only one displaced Kashmiri Pandit family has so far returned to the Valley. However 1,474 state government jobs have been provided to the newly appointed migrant youths who have been kept in newly constructed 1,010 transit accommodations in the Kashmir Valley.