In a test for BJP, Congress introduces pandit rehabilitation bill

(This story originally appeared in on 03/21/2022)

With the exodus of Kashmiri pandits back on the agenda, a bill for private members is expected in the coming days to call on the government to ensure the immediate restoration of the community in the valley, with an emphasis on restoring infested properties and providing a high level of security lies employment screen to encourage their return.

The Kashmiri Pandit (Recourse, Restitution, Rehabilitation and Resettlement) Act, to be introduced by Congressman Vivek Tankha in the Rajya Sabha, could test the BJP government as it seeks expert committees to draft a white paper on the atrocities and hardship Kashmiri pandits to date and a commission of inquiry to investigate the “genocide” and “mass exodus”.

While the white paper, which is to be compiled by a panel headed by a retired chief justice of India, will also cover the BJP regime’s eight years at center and its previous state government, the commission of inquiry must examine the year 1989, when the Exodus took place under the BJP-backed VP Singh government. The governor of J&K at the time was Jagmohan, a BJP loyalist. Both issues played important roles in the Congressional response to the BJP’s attack on rivals over the Kashmiri pandit exodus.

Tankha’s bill aims to put in place sophisticated infrastructure to facilitate the return of Kashmiri pandits to the valley, with an emphasis on security, heavy investment to encourage entrepreneurship among returning families, quotas for education and jobs, and a monthly family allowance for she. Above all, she wants the community to be declared a “minority” under the National Commission for Minorities Act.

The bill provides for the restoration of the property of pandits who have suffered encroachment. It states that all property sales after 1989-90 should be declared a “distress sale”, which is null and void, and returned to the original owners. In a test for BJP, Congress introduces pandit rehabilitation bill

Jaclyn Diaz

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