Amit Shah’s parliament speech about KPs draws sharp criticism from Kashmiri Pandits groups

‘Pandit Exodus did not happen under congress, happened in VP Singh’s govt which was supported by BJP’

‘Eyewash and hoodwinking’: Congress provided jobs, not BJP

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah’s speech made in the parliament about Jammu and Kashmir elicited a negative response from Kashmiri Pandit organisations, dubbing the alleged factual inaccuracies as ‘shameful’, and ‘opportunistic’.

In a video statement, Dr Agnishekhar, Convener of Panun Kashmir (PK), a right-wing Kashmiri Hindu organisation calling for a segregated homeland, said that the BJP-led government is ‘misleading the nation for its political benefits’.

“The information given by Union Home Minister, Amit Shah regarding the distribution of relief in Parliament yesterday among Kashmiri migrants is totally incorrect, as only 22,000 displaced families are getting relief – instead of 44,000 as stated by him,” he is quoted saying in the video.

On Feb 13, Amit Shah in a speech made in the parliament about Jammu and Kashmir – had said that the government provides ₹13,000 per month as well as free ration to families of 44,000 Kashmiri Pandits who have relief cards.

In a video tweeted by his official handle, Amit Shah claimed that the Congress was ‘unable to safeguard Pandits living in the valley’.

“It was not under our government that Kashmiri Pandits were rendered displaced. The Congress party was unable to safeguard the Pandits “ Shah says in the video.

He tweeted that the Modi government provides Rs 13,000 to every Kashmiri Pandit family and has given 3,000 jobs post-rehabilitation.

“Our government will rehabilitate 6,000 Kashmiri Pandits in the valley by 2022,” the tweet added.

Further in the video, Amit Shah can be seen claiming that and ‘redeem their pledge’ of the last numerous years, by rehabilitating the displaced community.

“We’ve given 3,000 jobs to the Pandits and are on-board with our plans of resettling them by 2022. Did you ever give the same in the last 70 years?” Amit Shah says in the video.

‘Eyewash and Hoodwinking’: Congress Provided The Jobs, Not BJP

Terming BJP’s government’s present moves of rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits as ‘only eyewash and hoodwinking, Dr Agnishekhar, Convener of Panun Kashmir (PK) said that GoI has ‘failed to address this complex and genuine issue’.

“Taking 6,000 [KP migrant] employees to [the] valley and settling them in clusters will not solve the problem of lakhs of displaced Pandits living in exile. These 6,000 jobs were not given by BJP, but previous Congress Government; so the party [BJP] should not take credit for the same,” he was quoted saying.

Agnishekhar also claimed that it was ‘due to his efforts’ that the issue was taken ‘in three round table conferences with the then-government after which the package was announced’.

Blaming BJP for the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, Agnishekhar said that it was under the Janta Dal-led V.P. Singh’s government at the centre, ‘supported by the BJP’, that Pandits were ‘forced to leave the valley’.

“The party [BJP] did not muster the guts to withdraw support to his [VP Singh’s] government.” he was quoted saying.

“Amit Shah had said some land had been acquired by the GoI to resettle around 6,000 Kashmiri Pandits under the employement package, calling it BJP’s sankalp (oath). What can be more shameful than this? Is this your promise? Are there just 6,000 Kashmiri Pandits in the world? The numbers are in lakhs. Don’t play with our emotions. I also want to remind them that the said package was brought in by the UPA government under Dr Manmohan Singh, and not BJP. You’re a failed Home Minister, Mr Shah.”

Agnishekhar added that Kashmiri Pandits, who had priorly welcomed the move of the abrogation of the Article 370, are still ‘living in 4th August’.

“We had supported the move of the abrogation on the 5th of August. But what did that yield for the Pandits? We have been stuck in 4th August. Nothing happened in our favour. You changed the law, the constitution, and the map of the state of J&K – what about did you do for the Pandits? A promise of 6,000 flats? That’s it? It is a huge shame.”

“Pandits, owing to their miseries, thought BJP will do something for them. But I want to warn PM Modi and Amit Shah that if such conduct persists, we [KPs] will condemn your party worldwide,” he concluded

‘Blatant Lies: Only 19,000 Families Avail Benefits, Not 44,000’

Another claim made by Amit Shah about the relief sum proved to the Pandits drew sharp criticism from Kashmiri Pandit groups.

Another Kashmiri Pandit group – Jagati Tenement Committee Soan Kashmir Front – which has been protesting for months to demand hike in monthly cash relief of relief holders – condemned Amit Shah’s claims in the parliament yesterday about Kashmir Pandits and expressed anguish over having used the name of Pandits for political ‘mileage’.

Shadi Lal Pandita, front leader of Jagati Tenement Committee Soan Kashmir Front, in a video that surfaced on Twitter was quoted saying:

“…In his parliament speech yesterday, Amit Shah claimed that they provide relief to 44,000 migrant families, which is a blatant lie. Around only 19,000 migrant families avail the relief, out of which, around five to six thousand cards are fake – which is a scam.”

“Shah had also claimed that their government provides us Rs 13,000 in relief, which we had already been availing of. It was they [BJP] under whom the prices skyrocketed; I want to ask them if their leaders can look after their families with such meagre sum?” Pandita added.

He also said the claimed number of 6000 jobs had already been provided by the prior government of Congress.

“What did they [BJP] give us? Nothing! All they did was drag our name into politics, and exploit our name and miseries to come to power. It is these Kashmir Pandits, who will now throw you off your throne. It is our promise that we won’t let this government come to power again.”

“We have been in turmoil for the last 31 years, and they [BJP] claim that it was the Congress government who withdrew Kashmiri Pandits. But at that time, it was V.P. Singh’s government which had support from the BJP. Governor Jagmohan belonged to the BJP-RSS, who at the time when Pandits were dragged out of their homes, watched the spectacle unfold. The BJP-RSS and Shiv Sena would tell us Pandits to come to Jammu, saying that we will provide Pandits with ration and blankets. They begged the world in our name and gave us nothing but broken articles of use.”

“Whatever relief money was to come our way through the big names in India, the BJP used it to make and develop their own party, for their own ends. We are extremely disappointed by them and demand to be resettled.”

Fact Check

As reported by The Economic Times on September 20, 2012 – J&K admin had doubled the monthly relief to Kashmiri Pandits migrants.

“Till the time their return takes place smoothly, all facilities need to be provided to them at the migrant township and other places in Jammu”, Former Chief Minister of J&K, Omar Abdullah had told the Apex Advisory Committee meeting of Kashmir migrants.

Saying that a large number of migrant families are ‘solely surviving on this relief’, Abdullah had said: “We have already recommended [the] enhancement of cash assistance to the migrant families from the present ceiling of Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 per family per month to the central government.”

The Economic Times had also reported that the committee approved the conversion of 588 one-room tenements at Purkhoo in two-room dwelling units to accommodate an equal number of most deserving and needy migrant families.

“It would cost Rs 8.43 crore. Also approved was Rs 15.19 crore water supply scheme for the Jagti township where around 25000 migrants are living near Nagrota (Jammu),” the report carried.

The committee, according to the report, had also approved constructing 160 shops in the new township on a ‘self-financing basis’.

The then-government had reportedly accorded sanction to the relaxation of upper age limit prescribed for entry into government service by 3 years as a one-time exception in favour of Kashmiri migrants to facilitate recruitment of eligible candidates against available vacancies caused due to de-reservation of posts and also due to non-joining of selected candidates under Prime Minister’s package.

“At the same time, the Omar government is seriously considering seeking an enhanced package from the centre to encourage migrants to return home. It has become inevitable as no migrant family has agreed to avail the benefits of the Rs 1618.40 crores package that the Prime Minister announced for their return in April 2008,” the report carried.

The priorly existing package had reportedly envisaged a Rs 75,00,000 grant for acquiring a new house under group housing scheme, free transit accommodation, the continuation of the benefits they avail as migrants in Jammu or elsewhere, scholarships for students, a one-time grant for resuming agricultural activities and waiver of interest on loans besides 15000 jobs.

However, of the 3000 jobs that the state advertised for migrant Pandit young, 2148 were actually appointed, according to the report. “But only 1414 joined their services in Kashmir. During their Kashmir posting, they live in transit accommodation that the state government has set up in the last two years” it further reads.

“We have Rs 60 crores for raising 495 units at four places and we are already through with 335 units,” then Revenue Minister Raman Bhalla was quoted saying.

As reported by Early Times on 15 of July, 2007 – the foundation stone of a Rs.700 crore satellite town project at Nagrota, 10 KMs East of Jammu was laid by the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“I understand the difficulties being faced by the displaced community of Kashmiri Pandits. Though late I am committed to provide suitable rehabilitation for them.” he was quoted saying.

“The Government is aware of their problems. It will try to provide them with better living conditions in Jammu. We will make their stay in the two-room flats comfortable till the atmosphere becomes conducive for their return to their ancestral places in Kashmir.” he had said.

Reportedly, the project for which he laid the foundation, was envisaged with construction of 4200 flats. Besides this, about 1000 two-room flats were under construction at Muthi and Purkhoo migrant camps on the outskirts of Jammu city – both of these projects – which had been taken in hand under the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s reconstruction programme.

Thus, Agnishekhar iterates, “Pandits, owing to their miseries, thought BJP will do something for them. But I want to warn PM Modi and Amit Shah that if such conduct persists, we [KPs] will condemn your party worldwide,”

“What did they [BJP] give us? Nothing! All they did was drag our name into politics, and exploit our name and miseries to come to power. It is these Kashmir Pandits, who will now throw you off your throne. It is our promise that we won’t let this government come to power again,” concluded Pandita.

 

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