The Centre told Lok Sabha Wednesday that 21 non-Muslim Kashmiris and outsiders have been killed by militants in the Valley since August 5, 2019, but no Kashmiri Pandit has migrated out of the Valley during the period.
“From August 5, 2019 till 9th July, 2022, 128 security force personnel and 118 civilians have been killed by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. Out of 118 civilians killed, 5 were Kashmiri Pandits and 16 belonged to other Hindu/Sikh communities. No Pilgrim has been killed during this period,” MoS Home Nityanand Rai told Lok Sabha in a written reply to a question.
On being asked how many Kashmiri Pandits had migrated out of the Valley owing to these recent killings, Rai said, “Under the Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP), 5,502 Kashmiri Pandits have been provided Government jobs in different departments of Govt. of Jammu and Kashmir in the Valley. Further, as per the records, no Kashmiri Pandit has reportedly migrated from the Valley during the said period.”
On August 5, 2019, the government had announced abolition of J&K’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union territories on the ground that this would help tame terrorism and usher in development.
Last month, hours after a female teacher was shot dead by terrorists in Kulgam district, an organisation of Kashmiri Pandit employees had threatened to leave the Valley if the government did not relocate them to safer places in 24 hours.
Rajni Bala, hailing from Samba district in Jammu division, was shot dead by terrorists last month inside the government school in Kulgam where she was posted. Before her, Rahul Bhat, a clerk in the office of Tehsildar Chadoora in Budgam district, was shot dead inside his office on May 12. These killings had followed a spate of such murders in October last year when Pandits, including famous Kashmiri pharmacy owner Makhan Lal Bindroo, and multiple migrant workers were shot dead by militants.
In the aftermath of the 2021 killings, many Kashmiri Pandits reportedly left the Valley and fled to Jammu out of fear. Some Pandits, engaged in government service in Kashmir, have also accused the government of forcing them to stay in the Valley by threatening disciplinary action.
The government has repeatedly said it is taking all possible measures to ensure safety of all migrants in the Valley.
“The Government has a policy of zero tolerance against terrorism and the security situation has improved significantly in Jammu and Kashmir. There has been substantial decline in terrorist attacks from 417 in 2018 to 229 in 2021,” Rai said Wednesday.
Notably, the Narendra Modi government has been trying to resettle migrated Kashmiri Pandits back to the Valley.
“Government of India approved construction of 6,000 transit accommodations for Kashmiri Migrant employees engaged/to be engaged in different districts of Kashmir Valley under Prime Minister’s Development Package, 2015 (PMDP-2015) announced on 7.11.2015. Construction of 1,025 Units has been completed/substantially completed, 1,872 Units are at different stages of completion and work on remaining Units has been taken up,” Rai said in reply to another question.
Meanwhile, the government told Lok Sabha Wednesday that State land (including Khalsa Sarkar, Kahchrie, Shamilat, etc) measuring 2,359.45 hectare has been acquired by the government for various public purposes such as roads, including National Highways, railways, schools/colleges, playgrounds, parks, buildings, soil waste management, border fencing/border out posts, industrial estates, etc. during the years 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-2022 (up to June 2022).
It also said that of the 8,565 hectare allotted under the Roshni Act scheme, it has been able to retrieve only over 1,300 hectare till date. These allotments had been cancelled by the J&K High Court.