J&K: Parties Back Kashmiri Pandit, Dogra Employees' Demands for Relocation From Valley
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Jammu: All major parties in Jammu and Kashmir, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, have come out openly in support of Kashmiri Pandit and Dogra employees and backed their demands for "relocation" from Kashmir in view of targeted killings by militants and a transfer policy.
The National Conference, People’s Democratic Party, Aam Aadmi Party, Apni Party and others criticised the Union territory administration over the "step-motherly treatment and bureaucratic indifference" to the employees sitting on protests for the past eight months.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha's recent remarks that reserved category (Dogra) employees cannot be transferred to Jammu and those (KP employees) sitting at home will not get salaries drew sharp reactions from these parties.
The BJP reacted angrily to Sinha's remarks and said these employees will not be made "sacrificial goats".
The Congress will make it the main issue when its Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi reaches Jammu and Kashmir early next year. The party also plans to hold protests on the issue, its leader Hira Lal Pandita said.
"It is a shameful statement of LG. On the one hand the government is not in a position to provide foolproof security to these employees nor has provided accommodations to them in last over 10 years and on the other hand it is making them scapegoats by forcing them to join their duties in valley where they have no security to their lives," Pandita told PTI.
Reacting to these employees' demands, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and national conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah said, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi must call an all-party meeting on this issue. Don't make Kashmiri Pandits sacrificial lambs if you can't provide security to them. Kashmiri Pandit employees shouldn't be forced to return and resume duties in the Valley.”
Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina told PTI, "We reiterate that we back their demands. We stand firmly by the Kashmiri Pandit and reserved category (Dogra) employees. Come what may, we are with them."
He said senior party leaders had met the protesting employees and would share their report and brief BJP national president J P Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah.
"Let me tell you we will not allow you to become sacrificial goats. You cannot perform duties in such a situation," he told the employees.
Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday came out in support of these employees.
"If there is a threat even to one life, it is better to save that life even if it means closing down a dozen offices," he said.
BJP national general secretary and in-charge for Jammu and Kashmir Tarun Chugh also raised the issue of threat to the lives of Kashmiri Pandits, saying they have been targeted by terrorists from 1990 till today.
BJP leader Devender Rana promised the Dogra employees that a transfer policy will be framed and no one from Jammu be made "guinea pig". "Come what may, transfer policy will be framed. We will make it happen or else will leave,” he said.
Referring to the protesting reserved category employees who are also camping in Jammu and demanding their relocation, Lt Governor Sinha on Wednesday said, "They should also keep in mind that they are Kashmir Division employees and cannot be transferred to Jammu."
He asserted that all necessary measures have been taken for the safety of minority community employees including Kashmiri Pandits serving in the Valley, and sent out a “loud and clear” message to those protesting for transfer – no salary for sitting at home.
Sinha had made the remarks amid the protests by Kashmiri Pandit employees and Jammu-based reserved category employees who left the valley for Jammu in May following the targeted killings of their two colleagues — Rahul Bhat and Rajni Bala.
The protesting employees have been seeking relocation outside Kashmir. A resident of Samba district, Bala was shot dead by terrorists at a school in south Kashmir's Kulgam district on May 31. Bhat, a clerk, was shot dead inside the tehsildar's office in Chadoora tehsil of Budgam district.
The spate of targeted killings in Kashmir started in May this year.
Scores of Kashmiri Pandits, who were employed under the prime minister's package in 2012, have been staging protests since the killing of Rahul Bhat.
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti has said that instead of giving an ultimatum to Kashmiri Pandit employees to join their duty, the Jammu and Kashmir administration should chalk out a middle path taking into consideration the recent targeted killings in the Valley.
Mufti said, “The administration needs to know their problems and try to resolve them. Giving an ultimatum to join otherwise, your salaries will be stopped is wrong.”
“Everyone, including the Pandits, has suffered a lot but the government should take into consideration the recent (targeted) killings of the community members.” Mufti said.
The AAP asked the lieutenant governor and the BJP government at the Centre to give priority to security of Kashmiri Pandits. The AAP also extended its full support to the relocation demand of Kashmiri Pandits and special package employees, senior party leader M K Yogi said.
Panun Kashmir (PK) convener Agnishekar expressed his concern over the stand taken by the Union territory administration. He said that until the situation becomes normal in Kashmir these employees will be adjusted outside the Valley.
"It is the duty of LG to provide security and ensure safety of these employees. When administration is not safe...how can these hapless employees, who belong to a community which became the main target of terrorists since 1989, be safe," he said.
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