ur two great community leader Dr K.L. Chowdhury and Dr K.N. Pandita have expressed their views regarding our approach to forthcoming talks with Govt of India when PM visits Kashmir to find out a way for return of Kashmiri Pandits to their home land. Both of them have come to the view point that we should make alternative approach to our homeland demand other than Panun Kashmir. Dr. Chowdhury has proposed “city within state” and Dr. Pandita has proposed “cooperative housing colonies” around one selected area. It does represent a shift in our demand but perhaps both of them have come to the conclusion that in the present situation, the demand for centrally administered area within Kashmir is not acceptable to govt. of India. We need to discuss this new thinking.
- 1) Twenty years is a long time in the life of an individual. We have raised our voice at every platform regarding our forcible migration and worsening of our lives in exile, but without any success
- 2) A new generation has come into existence both in Kashmir and in our community. While the Muslim community in Kashmir is more radicalized, our youth has transformed into a pool of talent. Our middle aged youth has a global presence
- 3) India is not basically a Hindu nation .It is a multiracial, multi religious country. No political party can survive without this concept.
- 4) There is a global Islamic movement with an agenda to Islamize the world and weaken countries which they perceive as anti Islamic. These Islamic countries have huge oil resources, with which they are funding terrorists. A global movement is emerging to check them.
- 5) Pakistan, which is the central force behind Islamic movement is doing all it can to de-stablise India. Unfortunately Kashmir has border with Pakistan and has a Muslim majority.
We have following options:
- 1) Continue to live in Jammu and various parts of India. There are many smaller communities who have suffered our fate but over a period of time they have made their lives good. Take the case of Parsis who ran away from Iran centuries back and made India their home .Though foreigners, they prospered in India but at a cost . Their community has dwindled in numbers and may not survive for long. Migration of communities has been a timeless process and continues even now. Millions of Europeans migrated to America and prospered there .Our community members also migrated to various parts of India during the last three centuries. Looking closely at the demographic changes of Jammu, it is now place of many cultures. The original Jamvals whom we identify as dogras are few in numbers.
- 2) Going back to Kashmir. Home land demand as envisaged in our ‘Marg Darshan” resolution in 1990-91 though an excellent and viable, is not finding favour with the Govt. of India and J&K. The next alternative as envisaged by Dr Chowdhury and Dr Pandita need to be debated by the community
Merits/demerits of city/state or cooperative housing concepts
- 1) Let us be frank. We left Kashmir not only because of terrorism in the valley but deep in our minds, the insults of Muslim domination and exploitation in every field of life made us realize the bleak future of our youth. We were already in the process of migration even before mass migration in 1990. The Muslim mind has not changed since then. On the country present generation Muslim youth looks us as aliens in his land.
- 2) The international status of Kashmir is still not settled .No doubt Govt. of India declares Kashmir, even POK, as integral part of India yet they are talking of granting separate status to Kashmir .There may be another exodus after some time, if we go back.
- 3) Despite Govt. assurance, our youth may find getting govt. jobs difficult. The discrimination in college admissions will continue. Administrative set up will not be favorable to us. In short there will be no welcome to us.
- 4) If we do not, decide now about return to Kashmir, it may be never in future. With the passage of time there will be more alienation. No political party in near future is going to change the Indian or State constitution to suit our demands.
- 5) Concepts of safe life are changing. In this modern world risks to life are many: global terror attacks in cities, travel, pandemic like HINI, global warming etc.
- 6) A cluster settlement at one place or around one area may have its advantages as well. We will live as one cultural unit and we may gain some political mileage as well.
- 7) Our youth may not be interested in J&K govt. jobs. It may not be a big issue. They have the skills to find jobs all over world.
- 8) There are other non Muslim communities in Kashmir like Panjabis, Sikhs, who were making a living in Kashmir, with roots in Punjab and elsewhere .We can manage a similar living.
- 9) Kashmir has a large potential for growth. It is the limited and religious mental outlook of Muslim community that is hindering the growth of Kashmir. Sooner or later Kashmiri Muslims will realize this. We have always been in the forefront of growth, given a chance, we will demonstrate it.
Location and requirements of land
In Dr.Pandita’s estimation an area of 40,000 kanal will be required for cooperative housing schemes. It may sound great but it will not be sufficient for the development of a town ship for about four lac migrants’ .Let me break it up into details. Assuming that each family has four members, we will need one lac dwelling units. Keeping a provision of at least 200 yards of land per unit we need33300 kanals( Kanal measures 600 sq yards).For development of a modern housing colony the average land use ratio is 40:60.and even 25:75 in some states. ( i.e. 40 % construction area and 60% for laying of roads ,parks, schools hospitals etc) .Thus we will need minimum of around 83000 kanal of land which in other words means plus 10000 acres ( 8 kanals to an acre). That requirement is not a great amount of land .DLF city Phase I only where I live is spread on more than 6000 acres. It is five phases and besides that it has several other builders who have separate lands. For proposed township in Haryana, Ambanis have already acquired more than 20000 acres.
It should also be kept in mind that once a housing colony develops a number of people flock to that area for residing or providing services to people living there which makes a colony look over crowed in just 20 years ( as is the case in DLF now). So we have to make a provision for future expansion as well which should a minimum addition of 50%. Thus in all we should have at least 15000 acres of land.
The next important question that we have to deal with is where the land for this settlement should be procured. Rather than having these settlements at different places like Srinagar, Badgam, Baramulla, Anantnag I would suggest that we should focus on one place and that place in my opinion should be around Verinag, Kazigung extending towards Mattan. This is the area which holds a great potential for development and has the advantage of security, good communication , water resources and even mineral resources .For construction of houses we should have the option of joining in group schemes or constructing our own houses on the allotted land. However these details can be worked out later.
The priority at the present time is deciding our further course of action in the face of various proposals that government of India and J&K that are on the table.
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