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August 21, 2000
Hizb rejects resettlement plan for Kashmiri Pandits, threatens violence
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
The Hizbul Mujahideen threatened to use force after it rejected the latest government plan to bring migrant Kashmiri Pandits back to the Kashmir valley. The state cabinet had approved, on Saturday, an action plan to get the migrants back to the valley and set up of transit camps at three different places in the valley prior to their rehabilitation. The plan was finalised a few months back by the state government.
"We will not allow the creation of security zones and transit camps for the Pandits," said a Hizb spokesman adding, "We may even use force."
Coinciding with the government's announcement, militants shot at and critically wounded a Kashmiri Pandit, Prithvi Nath (60), at Qazigund where he was running a phone booth, late Sunday afternoon. Nath, sources said, had not migrated and continued to live in his village.
He was immediately shifted to hospital and his condition is stated to be critical. Senior police officers rushed to the spot. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
"We are not against the return of Kashmiri migrants back to the valley and we want them to live peacefully in all corners of the state and local Muslims, who are in a majority, have an obligation to protect the minorities," the Hizb spokesman said.
However, the government should not communalise the situation by taking irresponsible steps, he warned. "The security of the minorities cannot be ensured by creating security zones for them. Their protection will be ensured by the majority community."
The state cabinet considered the interim report of a sub-committee set up to prepare an action plan for the return of Kashmiri Pandits. The plan envisages setting up of three transit camps in three different places in the valley, rehabilitation grant for reconstruction of damaged houses, repairs of all types of intact houses and structures, grant for damaged household goods and furniture. It recommends interest free loans for re-establishing businesses and trade, rescheduling repayment of outstanding loans, compensation for loss of income for agriculturists and orchard owners, interest subsidy on loans for new businesses.
It also envisages waiver of interest on house building loans, advances for state and central government employees, cash assistance and free rations for some time, renewal of licenses for trade, admission of children in educational institutions on priority basis and an one-time stipend to students for purchase of books, uniforms and stationery. The cost of the plan is estimated at Rs 26 billion.
According to the Kaul committee report, there are 56,689 migrant families of all communities in Jammu and elsewhere in the country. Of them, 31,490 are in Jammu alone while 19,339 are in New Delhi. The state government has provided security to the Kashmiri Pandits who continue to live in various parts of the valley. After the massacre of 35 Sikhs at Chattisinghpora in March this year, the government provided security to the villages dominated by Sikhs as well.
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