Kashmiri Pandit families return to Anantnag, seek government’s help

In a small village in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, half a dozen houses are being built or renovated in Matan area. These houses belong to the Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced to move out from the Kashmir Valley during the early 1990s during the start of the insurgency.

Around 15 Kashmiri Pandit families in this colony have come back, while more are planning to return. These houses were in dilapidated conditions for years and now finally, it seems that these colonies would see happy times again.

”Yes, it’s true that houses are being built again. The Kashmiri Pandit community is now finally thinking of returning to their homes. The pandit community in Jammu is also thinking of returning. We used to live with so much love around us. People want to come. There are around 15 houses which are being built and more will be built too. In a few years, I am sure, if conditions are peaceful, everyone would return. ” said Ashok Kumar Sidha, President of Martand Temple Trust.

In the last few years, many such families have come back to the valley and are living happily. Matan village has seen the maximum number of Kashmiri Pandits returning to their homeland.

Without any government help, these people have started to build or renovate their old houses. Some local Muslim Kashmiris say things are returning to how it used to be in the 1980s and before.

”A lot of them have come back and a lot of them are coming back. We have always lived in brotherhood. There are many new houses being built here. As you can see, many houses in this colony are being built. We are with them and would love them to return. We always used to celebrate auspicious occasions days together. Kaka ji (Uncle) has returned back after many years. His house is all ready, and he will come soon to live in it. They have a lot of trust in us, and we have a lot of trust in them too. ” said Mohammad Rajab Lone, neighbour.

Most of the construction work is being done by the Kashmiri Muslim community. They have been taking care of these properties and now, they are helping them to rebuild these houses as well.

”We are so happy that they are returning. We are working on their houses. We have been working on these constructions. There are around 15 new houses being built. We are giving them all the support and we are very happy that they have come back. We are always there for help. Some of them never left and those who left are coming back. Insha Allah (Praise the lord), the brotherhood between us would remain forever,” said Farooq Ahmad Lone, another local.

The Pandit community wants the government to provide them security and also help them build their houses. They say if there are no homes for the Pandits, how can they return to the valley.

The government had said that 6,000 Kashmiri Pandits have returned to the valley recently, but the community has claimed that they have not been provided proper accommodation and are living in rented rooms.

”The Pandits cannot return if they don’t have a place to stay. No 6,000 pandits have returned. These are those who are employees. Six employees live in one room here. That’s why we say the government hasn’t done anything for us. If the government had done something for these employees that meant creating space for 6000 families. Which would encourage others to come back too, ” said Ashok Kumar Sidha, President of Martand Temple Trust.

Courtesy : Idrees Lone

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