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Jammu Kashmir

Posted at: Jun 21, 2015, 12:19 AM; last updated: Jun 20, 2015, 10:41 PM (IST)

Kashmiri Pandits seek status of internally displaced persons, submit memo to PM

Kashmiri Pandits seek status of internally displaced persons, submit memo to PM

PoK refugees hold a candlelight march to observe International Refugee Day in Jammu on Saturday. Photo: A Singh

Ravi S Singh

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 20

Kashmiri Pandits, for the first time, observed World Refugee Day today. Pandits carried out a “mashal (torch) rally” and also submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking status of “internally displaced persons” for the community.

They also sought a separate homeland and probe into the circumstances relating to their “genocide” and “exodus” from Kashmir.

The move followed a call by Panun Kashmir, a frontline socio-cultural and political organisation of displaced Kashmiri Pandits.

The participants raised slogans in support of “separate homeland” also observed a two minute silence in memory of “genocide” victims, especially post 1990.

All India Anti-Terrorist Front chairperson MS Bitta, who is a victim of terrorism, also participated in the rally to express solidarity with pandits.

Agnishekhar, who came from Jammu to be a part of the programme, said: “For more than 25 years now we are living as refugees in our own country. The successive state and Central governments, including the present NDA regime, have continued to call us migrants. It has only one connotation that we have chosen to leave Kashmir for better future.”

Panun Kashmir vice-chairperson Prof Shakti Bhan, who had fled from Srinagar in 1991 with her family, said, if necessary, the community would move the United Nations to accord them the status of internally displaced persons.

Earlier, a memorandum was submitted to the Prime Minister by a delegation of community leaders.

Pandits urged Modi to treat the issue of their return and rehabilitation in the perspective of the “reversal of genocide”.

“We expect the leader of your stature and understanding to bring about this paradigm shift in the Government of India’s policy while addressing this issue,” the memorandum read.

It also reiterated Pandits’ demand for a “separate homeland” at a place north-east of the Jhelum. It must have status of a Union Territory and it should not be under the ambit of Article 370.

The memorandum further stated that pandits cannot return (to the Valley) with the circumstances remaining the same as existed during their exodus.

Jammu: The SOS International, an organisation for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) displaced persons, and the Pakistan- occupied Jammu and Kashmir Displaced Persons Front (1947 and 1965) today observed International Refugee Day here.

The SOS International organised a candlelight march at Maheshpura Chowk here. A large number of PoK displaced persons participated in it.

Rajiv Chuni, chairman, J&K, SOS International, said a memorandum was handed over to United Nations through the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu. “In the memorandum, the SOS International has urged the UN to consider the problems pertaining to the PoK displaced persons. The UN can help the PoK displaced persons remain within the legal status of refugee or internal displaced persons so that PoK displaced persons can also live their life with standard and dignity,” he said.

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