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Sunday Special » Perspective

Posted at: Mar 11, 2018, 1:18 AM; last updated: Mar 11, 2018, 1:18 AM (IST)

Watan parast Kashmiri Muslims continue to face threats

Sumit Hakhoo
2,000 migrant families live on relief assistance, afraid to visit their ancestral villages

Sumit Hakhoo in Jammu

Labeled as ‘enemies of Azadi movement’, nearly 2,000 displaced Muslim families who were forced to leave the Valley in the 1990s have lost all hope of a return.

Like 3.50 lakh displaced Hindus, these Muslim families left their homes after militancy erupted in 1989-90. The reason was their political affiliations or they were deemed “too modern” by extreme elements.

While Pandits were selectively targeted, a section of liberal, Left-leaning Muslims who opposed militancy was brutally killed by Hizbul Muhajideen and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) cadres. The killings forced many to abandon their villages and properties.

Many Muslim families who escaped to Jammu are living along with Pandits at Muthi, Buta Nagar and Jagti migrant camps. “Sometime people don’t believe that a Muslim, too, was forced to leave his village or town. We are living with Pandit families in Jagti camp with peace,” says Ghulam Qadir Bhat, originally from volatile Tral town of South Kashmir.

Many like him had defied the boycott call of terrorists in the 1989 parliamentary polls. “After a few families in our village had voted, a mob charged at our homes in the evening. Somehow we managed to save ourselves. After that came threats from militants. It was tough to travel to Jammu along with one’s family,” says Bhat who lives in Jagti camp township housing 4,000 families, mostly Pandits.

Similar is the story of Mohammad Ramzan Sheikh, whose family escaped from Handwara after militants killed his father for opposing the gun culture and actively participating in the political process in 1996. Still afraid to visit his native village, Sheikh along with his family also lives in Jagti camp.

Apart from Jammu, nearly 132 families also live in a ‘security zone’, comprising hotels and government buildings in summer capital Srinagar. Their houses had either been set ablaze or they were ‘advised’ by fellow villagers fearing reprisals from militants to leave.

“People like me have given life for watan (nation) but our watan parasti (nationalism) has been forgotten. Most families live in inhuman conditions in Srinagar,” says Mohiudin Shabnam, chairman J&K Political Migrants Front (JKPMF).

Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants), ML Raina says there are 2,000 Muslim families getting cash relief. “Most of these families left Valley following militant threats. We have nearly 600 Muslim families registered in the non-relief category.”

According to government figures, there are about 62,000 registered displaced Kashmiri families who migrated from the Valley. They are mostly Hindus. There are about 1,700 Sikh families registered with the relief organization.

As per government data, about 38,119 registered Kashmiri migrant families are living in Jammu and 19,338 families in Delhi. Around 2,000 families are settled in other states.


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