Monday, February 19, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

M A I N   N E W S

Pawar heads NCDM panel
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
The National Committee on Disaster Management (NCDM) today decided to set up a working group headed by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar to recommend long-term measures for tackling natural calamities.

The working group, a suggestion from Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who chaired the first meeting of the national committee, will include professionals and experts.

It will create task forces for each type of natural or man-made calamity and prepare a long-term plan that will be submitted to the national committee, which is likely to meet between the Budget and monsoon sessions, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan told the media.

Talking to mediapersons after the meeting, Ms Gandhi said she had urged the government to issue a notification required to clear the debris in Kutch.



Home away from home
M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 18
Despite security pickets having been established in all 129 villages that have Sikh families in the Kashmir valley a majority of 50,000 Sikhs have started setting up what is called “second home”.

After the massacre of 36 Sikhs in Chattisinghpora village in South Kashmir in March last year, several hundred Sikh families have purchased land and built houses in Jammu and the adjoining areas, including Samba, Kathua, Vijaypur.

The Chattisinghpora incident had triggered the migration of several hundred Sikh families from the valley. However, timely intervention by the government and Sikh leaders of the state and from Punjab had persuaded these migrants to return to the valley. Even after their resettlement in their ancestral villages they have made arrangements in Jammu and the adjoining areas where they could seek shelter should the situation force another exodus of the minority community.

The recent massacre of eight Sikhs at Mahjoor Nagar in Srinagar had, according to senior community leaders, increased the threat perception. During the past one week, scores of Sikhs have been investing money on land and houses so that they could have a “second home” in Jammu.

The Chattisinghpora carnage brought huge sums of money from the government agencies and other Sikh bodies as relief to the affected families. Official reports said these funds had been utilised on purchasing houses in Jammu and the adjoining areas.

A number of Sikh leaders from Punjab had assured members of the community living in the Kashmir valley of their help in purchasing small plots of land or houses in various areas of Punjab. For the time being a majority of the Sikhs have not shown interest in settling in Punjab on the plea that they have business interests in Jammu and Kashmir and a large number of them owned immovable property in Srinagar and other villages in the valley.

When in 1990 over 3.50 lakh Pandits migrated from the valley, between 12,000 and 18,000 Sikhs too had left Kashmir and sought relief from the government in Jammu. A majority of these Sikhs migrants had been registered with the Relief Commissioner and were entitled to relief and free ration.

However, within months the Sikh migrants returned to Kashmir in groups after senior Akali leader S.S. Mann, discussed the issue with Kashmiri separatist leaders. Since then members of the community have not faced any ordeal except that militants targeted those Sikhs who were in the police or who provided direct or indirect support to the security forces.

In fact when militancy was at its peak in Punjab between 1990 and 1993, several hundred Sikhs from various parts of Punjab migrated to the valley. They sold their merchandise, especially cloth, garments and hosiery items, and stayed in rented houses. They fled to Kashmir to escape any inconvenience that might have come their way either from the police or from militants in Punjab.

Hence the Chattisinghpora incident has been treated and attempt by the rebels to carry out further ethnic cleansing. A majority of the Sikhs living in the valley have been under constant fear. The Mehjoor Nagar incident has increased the threat perception.

A senior leader of the State Gurdwara Prabandhak Board said if any incident like the one in Chattisinghpora or Mehjoor Nagar was repeated, neither the Government nor any Sikh body would be able to check the migration of the minority community from the Kashmir valley.

He and other community leaders said that the basic purpose of building a “second home” in the Jammu region was to enable members of the community to lead an honourable and comfortable life in the case of migration. They had seen the living conditions of Kashmiri Pandits in camps and were not prepared to face such difficulties. At the same time senior separatist leaders in Kashmir have been trying to prevent the repetition of such incidents as the migration of Sikhs would further tarnish the image of those claiming to be fighting a “holy war” in Kashmir.Back

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |