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|March 1, 1999||
Dr Abdullah's volte face on Pandits surprises J and K
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah's statement in the state legislative assembly that migrant Kashmiri Pandits would not be forced to return to Jammu and Kashmir has took the political circles in the state by surprise.
Dr Abdullah, who had all along maintained that the migrants should return home immediately, effected a neat somersault. "The migrants would not be forced to return unless they are confident about the security scenario in the valley," he said.
In fact, last year, he threatened to stop the salaries and cash relief given to the migrants if they failed to come back immediately. The state government had formulated a detailed plan for the return of the pandits to the valley. However, the plan was temporarily shelved following the killing of Pandits. A special police force was created last year to provide security to Pandits.
Sources said that the latest massacre of Hindu villagers in Rajouri and Udhampur districts has forced the state administration to change its stand.
Various Pandit organisations had recently said that they would return to Kashmir only if complete normalcy is restored.
"The killings have increased manifold despite the tall claims made by Dr Abdullah. He is trying to force us to return. But we will return only when the last gun is silenced... Let him first move around in Srinagar without security," said Ramesh Koul, a central government employee, living in Srinagar.
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