Jammu, the refugee city of India (Part-II)May 3rd, 2011 - 1:01 pm ICT by ANI
Chunni claims that Jammu has more displaced persons than any other city in Asia. Whether they came in 1947, 1965 and 1971 or due to militancy in the Kashmir Valley from 1989 onwards, the displaced persons have made Jammu their temporary home.
“The government has no plans to tackle with this problem. World wide, refugees occupy camps for two or five or even 10 years till alternate arrangements are made and they are rehabilitated. This is probably the only place in the world where we still live in areas named as Camp this and Camp that even after sixty years,” Chunni says.
In the heart of the city is the Muthi camp, where some 500 Kashmiri Pandit families live in appalling conditions. It is one of the most depressing places I have ever been to. Refugees in their own land - they are the ‘internally displaced’.
About 326 families have been allotted better housing in Jagti Township, constructed to rehabilitate these refugees who came in from Kashmir in the 1990s fearing persecution. Some of them fled to Delhi and some here in Jammu. They are cramped into little hutments, with open sewage and shared toilets. These are people who once had their own homes and an enviable life style in the Valley. Twenty years have gone by and they have waited in vain for the situation to improve in Kashmir, so they may return.
Dr Ajay Chirungoo, the Chairman of Panun Kashmir, an organization of displaced Kashmiri Pandits, says the return of over a 150,000 of them to Kashmir is dependent on the security environment.
Dismissing the call for their return by separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani as a hoax, he says, “Geelani is one of the perpetrators of violence, now it suits him politically to make these statements. They are mere statements.”
Chirungoo says there is little chance of Hindus returning to the Valley soon.
“The alienation has deepened for us. The process of engagement by the interlocutors has been held hostage to separatist leaders. Why is that the case? These separatist leaders are not talking about freedom or Azadi as an empowerment tool for its people,” he says.
He adds: “This Azadi or freedom is nothing but fortification of a set of people who belong to one particular religion. The Salafi brand of Islam has overridden the Sufi Islam that was part of our culture. The building of Geelani as lone voice of the Valley is giving credibility to this harsh brand of Islam.”
Kashmiri Hindus see hints of a conspiracy in the renewed call for them to return to the valley. They say that a token number of them will be tempted to return to the Valley to give the impression to the rest of the world that peace is returning to Kashmir and then some deal will be struck between governments of India and Pakistan.
The Kashmiri Hindus here are so accustomed to rumours and conspiracy theories and being treated as pawns in larger geo-political games, that they are cynical of any talk of return to a place where they were killed because they were off a minority religion.
I asked the Chief Minister when and how he plans to tackle this problem of refugees.
Disappointingly, Omar Abdullah says, “I am not in a position to lay down a time frame for them. It is a complicated issue. There is the humanitarian side which we can’t ignore, and then, there is the legal and political side to it, that has to be factored in.”
Abdullah also cites the parliamentary resolution about PoK, which he can’t ignore, though realistically he admits it’s impossible to imagine that India will recover that part of Kashmir.
He says, “My party and my father (Dr Farooq Abdullah, former CM of Kashmir) have been very vocal about that.”
He says there are many issues about PoK that should be discussed openly, “like the growing Chinese influence there, and what it means to Kashmir here.”
The unfortunate story of Jammu, the refugee town, is that it is a story that has been told so many times that nobody wants to listen to it anymore.
It finds little or no mention in the state assembly of Jammu and Kashmir and almost none in the Parliament. Hundreds of thousands of Indians are bereft of their rights and they have no voice. (ANI)
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- Hospital, schools to be set up for Kashmiri migrants - Jul 23, 2011
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- The Jammu and Kashmir situation: The Azadi Debate (Part I) - Sep 17, 2010
- Paharis moot meeting community in PoK for ST status drive - Sep 09, 2012
- 1947 refugees oppose job quotas for Kashmiri Pandits - Jan 02, 2010
- Package for pandits irk migrants from Jammu hills - Jun 21, 2012
- Act against Roy, Geelani, demands Kashmiri Pandit group - Oct 26, 2010
- If I hadn't been a politician, I would be a pilot or a lawyer: Omar Abdullah - Apr 28, 2011
- Kashmiri Pandits oppose rebels' surrender and rehabilitation - Mar 08, 2010
- Refugees in our own country: Kashmiri pandits - Jun 20, 2012
- Hizbul Mujahideen militant says Kashmiris still receive training in PoK camps - May 12, 2010
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