Kashmiri Pandits demand 2.5% of J&K’s annual budget for migrants’ resettlement

Kashmiri Pandits on Thursday demanded the inclusion of 2.5 per cent of Jammu and Kashmir’s annual budget for resettlement and rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants as recommended by the office of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In a statement, Satish Mahaldar, chairman of reconciliation and rehabilitation of migrants, an influential organisation of Pandits, said: “Finance department of J&K government has denied the inclusion of 2.5 per cent of the annual Budget towards resettlement and Rehabilitation of Kashmiri Migrants despite the Recommendation from the office the Prime Minister of India through its communication reference number A16030/07/2020- J&K dated 11/02/2021 towards the Resettlement & Rehabilitation of Kashmiri Migrants.

“The Dept of Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, Civil Secretariat Jammu has also submitted the above recommendations to the Financial Commissioner (Finance Department of J&K) for inclusion of 2.5 per cent of the annual Budget for Relief, Rehabilitation & Resettlement of Kashmiri migrants.

“The concerned officer from the J&K government (finance department) remarked verbally that the GOI should clear the pending dues of UT and the Central government should sanction additional funds on account of the subject.

“We see a larger conspiracy by selective state government bureaucrats who are deliberately discriminating against Kashmiri migrants on the basis of religious lines.

“J&K government has offered land to neighbouring countries to start business and allowed them to settle in Jammu and Kashmir while making Aboriginal’s scapegoats.

“All refugees and displaced persons of Kashmir have the right to full and effective compensation as an integral component of the restitution process. The J&K’s UT government and the government of India should comply with the principle of restorative justice.

“It should be ensured as a rule that restitution is only deemed factually in exceptional circumstances, namely when housing, land and/or property is destroyed or when it no longer exists, as determined by an independent, impartial tribunal.

“Even under such circumstances the holder of the housing, land and/or property right should have the option to repair or rebuild whenever possible.

“In some situations, a combination of compensation and restitution may be the most appropriate remedy and form of restorative justice with up to one million of its citizens living as Refugees in neighbouring states soon after the 1990 Genocide.

“The government of Jammu and Kashmir needs to introduce National Human Settlement policy to resettle thousands of people/ refugees of J&K who intend to return. Among those who wish to return are “old” groups of refugees, most of whom have spent 32 years in exile in neighbouring states of India.

“The National Human Settlement policy should target the establishment of specific residential areas in each village/District as efforts to enhance proper land utilization and the provision of basic services.

“The fact that people would be concentrated, living in defined areas, would make it much easier and more efficient for the government to provide social and economic services to the population.

“This is in line with reaffirming the rights of refugees, especially the displaced women and girls, and recognising the need to undertake positive measures to ensure that their rights to housing, land and property restitution are guaranteed”.