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Kashmiri Pandit leader flays Roy’s remarks

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Writer Arundhati Roy’s remark that Kashmir should get Azadi from India has been blasted by the Jammu Kashmir Vichar Manch whose leader Ajay Bharti described the remarks as uncalled for.

Roy had chosen to “focus on a limited part of Kashmir” and the ground realities in the Valley were not being reflected in the general discourse.

Bharti, who will speak at a one-day seminar on the Kashmir issue at the Samskrithi Bhavan here on Monday, said that even Roy’s accompanying remarks sympathising with the displaced Kashmiri Pandits were made “from compulsion.” “They did not come from the heart. If they did, she would have joined our dharna at the Jantar Mantar where we were fighting for our rights when she was in New Delhi. But, she did not even visit us,” he said.

“She is a celebrity. And we accept that she is internationally known. We in Kashmir grew up listening to stories about Adi Shankara from Kerala. But we are annoyed that Roy, who is also from Kerala, has chosen to focus on a limited part of Kashmir which forms only eight percent of the total state,” he said. “The Sufi ideals that led the Kashmiri people are being radicalised. Roy is aiding that.”

Bharti said that the injustice and discrimination meted out to the displaced Kashmiri Pandits are being ignored in the Government’s overzealousness to accommodate secessionist viewpoints. The Manch leaders are currently travelling across the country to provide the real picture of what is happening in the Valley, he said. The space between the Government and the real people of Kashmir have widened.

“The people would like to have the Army than other forces. In fact, there were whole villages which protested against the demand to pull back the Army,” he said.

The rights of the Kashmiri Pandit families who fled the valley over the years are being trampled upon, by the Government as well as the local authorities, he said.

According to official figures, 56,000 Kashmiri Pandit families had fled the valley. In reality, at least four lakh people were left homeless. Today, only between 10,000 and 15,000 people from the community remain in the Valley.

“For instance, if a snowfall destroys my orchard and also my Muslim neighbour’s orchard, he would get paid, but not me,” Bharti said.

“Even when it comes to jobs, our community is ignored. We made a representation to the Prime Minister asking for 6,000 jobs for our people. A list was published naming 700-800 people. But no orders were issued.’’ Bharti says his own house in Seer Jagir Sopore was taken over by his Muslim neighbour. “I’ve been following that case for 20 years, but nothing has happened,” says Bharti.

Following complaints that the 2001 census figures were manipulated to show a large Hindu population in the Valley, the Manch has now petitioned the Centre to conduct a special census for the displaced Kashmiri Pandit community who live in places such as Jammu and Delhi. “Otherwise, we will cease to be state subjects. We have been removed from voters lists,” he said.

The Government is showing its readiness to accommodate secessionist viewpoints ignoring the majority one. I see my dark future in that. My future as a Kashmiri Pandit in Kashmir is at stake,” he said.

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