Washington: Forced to live in exile for
more than two decades, the global Kashmiri Pandit diaspora has
sought carving out a homeland for them in the north east of
the Jhelum river in the Valley with Union Territory status.
In a teleconference with Dilip Padgaonkar, one of the
three interlocutors appointed by the Indian government on
Jammu and Kashmir, the global Kashmiri Pandit diaspora argued
that this is the only option to protect this unique and
distinct community from becoming extinct.
Some 436 Kashmiri Pandits from across the globe US,
New Zealand, France, Australia, Canada, India, Austria,
Germany participated in the tele-conference with Padgaonkar
that lasted for more than an hour on Friday.
Noting that Kashmiri Pandits must be given a high
political stake in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, Padgoankar
asserted that return of the Kashmiri Pandits to their "home
with honour and dignity" is one of the top priorities of the
California based Jeevan Zutshi, who moderated the
session, said that Kashmiri Pandits have become homeless and
are on the verge of extinction, since they were forced to
leave their homes in and after 1990.
"This is an opportunity for the government of India to
create a homeland for them which will not be drawn with
religious lines; it will be a place where all secular
Kashmiris can again live together to revive Kashmiriyat and
promote Sufism, Shavism and harmony," said Zutshi, chairman of
the International Kashmir Federation.
"The Global Kashmiri Pundit diaspora is compelled to
endorse carving of homeland in the north east of river Jhelum
with Union Territory status and with free flow of Indian
constitution as the only option to protect this unique and
distinct community from becoming extinct," said Surinder Kaul.
"Please be informed all the religions including
Muslims having faith in Indian constitution are welcome to
stay with us in this land," said Texas-based Kaul.
Krishna Bhan from Britain said that in 1990 over
400,000 Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave their homeland
after militancy began in the Valley.
"The Kashmiri Pandits living in the West are greatly
concerned about the issues of Kashmiri Pandits` extinction in
Jammu and Kashmir and in the other parts of India due the
condition created by their forced exodus from the Valley,"
Bhan said, adding that the displaced community with a distinct
culture needs to be saved from the threat of extinction.
Presenting a document, Lalit Kaul from Massachusetts
demanded that the Kashmiri Pandits community be declared as
Internally Displaced People (IDP), delink employment packages
from our return and rehabilitation in the Valley and hand over
the management of Kashmiri Hindu religious shrines, icons and
cultural centers to Kashmiri Hindu leadership.