Srinagar: Chief Minister of Indian-administered-Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday asserted that her government was committed to bringing back Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants to the Valley and would set up transit accommodations for them till they feel safe to return to their native places.
Rejecting claims of opposition parties and separatists that the government was setting up separate colonies for Kashmiri Pandits, she told the Assembly that the construction of transit accommodation was among recommendations made by the Prime Minister's Working Group, formed in 2005, and it will be for Muslim and Sikh migrants too.
She wondered how migrants can be asked "to return to their native places when our political workers -- be it from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Congress, National Conference or any other party -- are living under security in hotels in Srinagar".
"Why don't we tell them to return to their places? Because they don't feel secure. No body raises questions why we have made a colony for them," Mehbooba said.
She said her government was committed to setting up composite transit accommodation with basic facilities. "This is a facility for migrants. Don't we have Muslim migrants? Don't we have migrants in Jammu? Are not there Sikhs and other people among them? If we are saying 50 per cent will be Kashmiri Pandits and the rest others, you are saying it is Israel-like situation," she said.
Mehbooba said the migrants can return to their native places only when they feel secure enough. "They can go to Ganderbal, Pulwama or Baramulla after that," she said.
The chief minister said it cannot be expected that the people who have left the Valley 25 years ago will straight away go back to their places. "Some of them have forgotten the way to their homes. Some don't even remember their homes. What kind of humanity is this? We all agree that migrants are part of our Kashmiriyat and they should return with dignity," she said.
She said the state needs the Kashmiri Pandit migrants to fill the void in various sectors. "I would request them to come back. They have such IQ. We have an AIIMS coming up. I would appeal to all Kashmiris -- Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs -- who are working in different hospitals outside the state to come back," she said.
On the establishment of Sainik Colony in Kashmir, Mehbooba said her government has not issued any direction in this regard. "No land has been identified yet for establishing Sainik Colony. No direction has been issued for establishing it. The Sainik Board which is registered under an Act (of state assembly) has by-laws which say that land can only be alloted to state subjects. How can you (opposition) even talk about bringing in non-state subjects," she said. Mehbooba said the position of the government is that it does not have any land available in Srinagar, Pulwama and Budgam districts for setting up such a colony.