How many non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits must go hungry before they are granted their rights?
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KPSS President Sanjay Tickoo begins Fast-unto-Death!
The story of the forced exodus of Kashmiri Pandits (KP)from the Kashmir valley in 1990 is well known. But what few people know is that even today, 808 KP families are still living in 242 locations spread across the Valley. At least 150 of these are Below Poverty Line (BPL) households where people struggle for food and medical care.
Apart from economic challenges, over 500 KP youth who are eligible for government’s employment schemes are yet to be given these benefits. Earlier, the number was 600, but due to delays in implementation of the employment scheme, almost 100 of them have now crossed the age limit to be eligible! Security cover provided to the community was also withdrawn in 2018, leaving them to fend for themselves.
The Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), a partner organisation of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), has made multiple representations to different central, state and now Union Territory (UT) authorities. They have met three Prime Ministers; HD Deve Gowda, Manmohan Singh and current PM Narendra Modi and showcased how various government schemes related to alleviating the plight of Kashmiri Pandits have systematically excluded non-migrant KP families from their purview. KPSS has also written to several former chief ministers and bureaucrats and after Governor’s Rule was imposed, sent representations to that office as well.
In fact, just since June 2020, KPSS has sent over 110 memoranda to the UT authorities, but the response has been underwhelming, suggesting that the concerns of the KP community are not a priority for the administration. On August 12, 2020, KPSS sent the following memorandum as a final communication to UT authorities, demanding a response within 10 days, failing which KPSS president Sanjay Tickoo would go on a fast-unto-death.
On Thursday, August 27, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha met with a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits and assured them that their grievances will be addressed. In light of this KPSS decided to give the LG 15 days time, but when no action was taken during that period, the KPSS President began a Fast-unto-Death on September 20, 2020.
CJP supports KPSS in their campaign to get justice for non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit families. We believe all Indians deserve to be treated equally, and that non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits have been denied this dignity by successive governments.
We call upon Lt Governor Manoj Sinha to look into all the grievances mentioned in the KPSS memorandum and respond to each one of them with a time-bound plan of action. Mr. Lt Governor, now that you are in-charge, it is time to walk the talk on protecting the interests of a persecuted minority community within your jurisdiction.
But more importantly, we call upon the Central Government to ensure that his administration stops invalidating the suffering of this minority Hindu community in Kashmir. It is important for India's commitment to Kashmiriyat, the Indian Constitution and its adherence to the values of diversity and secularism, that these long overdue demands are met.
We urge our fellow Indians to come together and sign this petition so that not a single Kashmiri Pandit family has to endure another moment of suffering and no one has to be forced to fast-unto-death to demand their rights.
Write to Lt Governor and the Central Government!
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