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Why Has the BJP Forgotten Us, Asks Kashmiri Pandit Leader on Fast-Unto-Death in Srinagar

Non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits during a sit-in protest against the government at Ganpatyar, Srinagar.

Non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits during a sit-in protest against the government at Ganpatyar, Srinagar.

Sanjay Tickoo, the Kashmiri Pandit leader asks why is it that the community doesn’t even have money to buy medicines in J&K which comes directly under the central government, which reports to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Suhas Munshi

Sanjay Tickoo, the president of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), is on the third day of his fast-unto-death at the 200-year-old Ganpatyar Temple in Srinagar. Protesting against the J&K administration for ‘punishing’ the community, he has one question for the ruling party: “If the BJP calls itself a party for the Kashmiri Pandits then why has it left us high and dry for the past four years?”

“They keep taking our name, claiming that they are working for us. If that’s the case then why since 2016 till now have they not been able to help us? Why is it that we don’t even have money to buy medicines in the Union Territory of J&K which comes directly under the central government which reports to Prime Minister Modi?” Tickoo asks.

KPSS is the organisation representing 808 Kashmiri Pandit families who chose to stay on after insurgency broke out in the valley, forcing an exodus of the Kashmiri Hindu community. They allege they faced harassment at the hands of the J&K government after the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5 last year.

Since the abrogation of articles 370 and 35-A, after which many businesses wound up due to the law and order situation, curfew and communication blockade, many Kashmiri Pandits lost their jobs. The epidemic pushed many more Pandit families, which were already living under mounting debts and increasingly difficult situations, to the brink.

Tickoo says KPSS has, since June, written hundreds of letters to the Prime Minister’s Office, to the Ministry of Home Affairs, to the office of Lieutenant Governor and to Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Secretary, reminding them about the recommendations made by the home ministry and the J&K High Court, to provide jobs and financial assistance to the non-migrant Pandit families.

“There are over 500 people here among the 808 families who don’t have any jobs right now. Over 350 families that depended on private jobs are penniless right now since Article 370 was abrogated and Covid-19 pandemic broke out,” Tickoo, talking to News18 over the phone, said.

Blaming the government departments for not moving the necessary files on time, he adds there are 4-5 families which have one or more members suffering from cancer. “How will they afford expensive chemotherapy sessions without any source of income,” he asks.

In a letter released to the press on Sunday, Tickoo wrote, “Since abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, we the Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits – Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley are facing harassment and isolation at the hands of the Relief Department. Despite multiple directions from Hon’ble High Court and recommendations from the Central Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Relief Department is playing with the life and security of the Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits – Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley.”

The Kashmiri Pandits living in the valley, he says, are not demanding charity from the government. “All we are asking the government is to give jobs to people of our community based on their qualifications and provide financial assistance to us. This is not a favour. The Union Home Affairs ministry and Honourable High Court have already recommended these measures more than once. People here are already cutting down on their rations. I don’t know how long we will be able to survive with such a complete apathy by the government towards us,” Tickoo added.


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