Monday, December 10, 2007

What about us, say Kashmiri Pandits

Abhinav Kumar

In exile for the past 18 years, Kashmiri Pandits in the Capital condemned the National Human Rights Commission on Sunday for failing to investigate cases of atrocities against members of their community by militants in Jammu and Kashmir even after filing a petition on it a year ago.
Pragya, 11, a member of the Kashmiri Pandit community, has visited her ancestral home only twice. Born and brought up in Delhi, a visit to her homeland in Jammu has increased the urge to go back to her native land.

“The place is simply fantastic,” she exclaims, not finding the right words to express her longing for her homeland.

As many as 100 members of the community took out a protest march from Janpath to BK Ganjoo Memorial Park near Gole Market demanding a fair trial and the immediate arrest of Yasin Malik and Bitta Karate, besides better living conditions for the 50,000 displaced Kashmiri Pandits living in camps in Jammu.

“As per United Nations guidelines and definitions, our community also qualifies to receive the status of Internally Displaced People. We feel we should be granted this status since we are neither migrants nor refugees. We are Indian nationals and we have been ousted from our homes,” said Aditya Raj Kaul, media coordinator of Roots in Kashmir, a youth organisation fighting for the community’s cause.

Members of the community across Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Baroda and Jammu staged simultaneous protests against the rights panel.

“It has been 18 years now since the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Jammu. Probes have been ordered into the Ayodhya and the Godhra cases, but the cases of militant action against the Kashmiri Pandits have been totally ignored by the NHRC,” said Amal Magazine, chief coordinator, Roots in Kashmir.

“December 9 being the World Human Rights Day, we hope our protests act as a wake up call for the NHRC and result in a probe into the cases and also meet our other demands,” said Raj.

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