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Varanasi
Sunday, May 29, 2022

Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora expert panel releases historic Homeland Manifesto

At a global public event, GKPD released the results of a two yearlong study by eminent, international scholars and human rights practitioners on the way forward for the just and sustainable return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homeland.

While commending the present government for removal of Article 370 and making progress on the 6,000 Prime Minister jobs package, there was universal agreement that the state had abandoned the Kashmiri Pandit community which was now facing extinction.

Notwithstanding occasional rhetoric, the continuing official tag of ‘migrants’ showed that the State had not only not classified the Pandits as Internally Displaced Persons but instead disclaimed them as Internally Disgraced People.

The Kashmiri Pandit community has had to fend for itself for the last 32 years while the genociders have gained a windfall economic benefit estimated by the GKPD task force of over $30 billion in money, land, buildings, agricultural assets, art, livelihood, and other assets. This does not count the impact of lives lost.

Professor Aurobindo Ogra, the lead author of the study, who is based at the University of Johannesburg and has twenty years’ experience in urban planning stated, “Our study zeroed into the neighbourhood of Anantnag Division which historically has been a centre of Kashmiri Pandit land holdings and temples where the Autonomous Administrative Division would be carved out. This University township Hub would incubate industry, hospitals, health services and tourism and would be designed to scale up to house one hundred thousand Kashmiri Pandit families.”

Virinder Kaul, GKPD International Coordinator, based in Bharat who is co-author and a civil engineer with deep expertise in large scale projects stated, “Moving 6000 Kashmiri Pandits into interim housing in the Valley is subjecting them to further inhuman conditions including risk of life. As second-class citizens they are left with nothing at the end of their tenure. A permanent solution is long overdue. There is clear precedent in the thirty autonomous zones that have been set up so far in Bharat under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution to administer micro cultures like the Kashmiri Pandits. Financing of the Hub can be obtained by creating Special Purpose Vehicles which can club the previously announced welfare schemes for new homes and job creation and gain advantage of critical mass including Transfer of Development Rights. Besides the tax base that the AAD Hub will have, there is an opportunity to reposition the 500 plus temples in key spokes such as Varahamulla, Kupwara and Srinagar to their historic role of serving the religious tourists who would come and stay at the lankars and help generate revenues.”

Dr. Shafalica Bhan, GKPD UK, a psychiatrist and mental health specialist, based in London, UK stated: “The proposed solution builds on the earlier GKPD MOU which was signed by all Kashmiri Pandit organisations and over sixteen thousand five hundred civil society members. It will meet the security needs of the long- traumatized Kashmiri Pandit community who will be able to live with their families without fear in their homeland. More importantly, any solution must result in political empowerment of the community with adequate representation and not its hegemony. This will ensure that there will be non-refoulment as long as the autonomous council is protected constitutionally and not hollowed out.”

Rakesh Kaul, GKPD Co-Founder, based in the US stated, “The task force recommendations are based on a deep understanding of the rights of the Kashmiri Pandits under International law governing indigenous people and Genocide and finding solutions which are valid under the Indian constitution. It is undisputed that the State bears full responsibility for preserving and restoring Kashmiri Pandit way of life and status pre 1990 and earlier. It must leave no stone unturned so that at least five hundred thousand Kashmiri Pandits are granted domicile rights expeditiously and that full compensation is paid for the loss of life, property, and livelihood which the task force estimates at $30 billion and rising with time. Delaying justice is expensive and therefore it behooves the state to act with dispatch to find a solution for the return, resettlement, rehabilitation and restitution of Kashmiri Pandits.”

This report will be shared with relevant institutions in Bharat and globally.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with minor edits to conform Hindu-Post style-guide.)

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