Minhaz Merchant Aug 21, 2011
A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by chief justice Sarosh Kapadia, is hearing a petition against the Jammu & Kashmir government on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits forced to flee the Valley. The apex court is focussing on two issues: one, jobs promised to the Pandits by the J&K government; two, rebuilding their vandalised homes. Visibly annoyed with the senior counsel representing the J&K government, the Supreme Court bench observed acidly: “We didn’t want to go by your dream proposals, but want firm action. Can you show us even one instance where you have set aside the sale (of a Pandit home) and given it back to the victim?”
With the Supreme Court likely to pass a seminal order on their rehabilitation and return to the Valley, Kashmir’s Pandits have new hope that they will receive justice after 22 years of the most devastating ethnic cleansing in post-Independence India. Under legal pressure, a special employment package announced by the prime minister has already led to a trickle of Pandits flowing back into the Valley. In a significant if symbolic move, the US House of Representatives recently introduced a resolution highlighting the plight of the dispossessed Pandits.
Jan 18, 2011
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has expressed displeasure over inertia of the Jammu and Kashmir government to implement rehabilitation packages for Kashmiri Pandits who fled the Valley in the aftermath of insurgency. It asked the state to take firm action to ameliorate their condition.
“Tell us what have you (state government) done with your promise of providing 15,000 jobs? Have you given a single job? Or, for that matter, have you given them a single house,” asked a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia on Monday. We don’t want to go by your dream proposals, but want some firm action”.
It was hearing a petition filed by the All India Kashmiri Samaj and others alleging neither the state government nor the Centre was addressing grievances of Kashmiri Pandits who have been suffering for over two decades.
The court asked the state government to furnish data on steps taken to ameliorate the plight of Pandits. It asked the state to explain whether the government had set aside even a single sale of house as illegal since hundreds of houses between 1990-1997 belonging to Pandits had been auctioned and sold illegally after the victims fled the Valley.
“Can you show us even one instance where you have set aside the sale and given it back to the victim.” The bench granted four weeks to the state government to explain it.
Earlier, the court had sought a response from the state government on Rs 1,618-crore special package offered by Centre for restoring properties and providing jobs to migrant Pandits. It also expressed reservations over the Centre’s scheme saying it was not clear as to how the migrants on return will stay without any accommodation.
“Where will people who want to go back stay? Now, their properties have been sold or auctioned. There are number of petitions pending in the High Court. How will they go? Without house, how can people go back to Jammu and Kashmir,” the bench asked.
Additional Solicitor-General Indira Jaising on behalf of the Centre, however, assured the court that properties auctioned between 1990 to 1997 would be declared “illegal” and would be “restored” to owners. “All those auctions are illegal and they will be cancelled,” she had said. According to the Centre, Rs 12.5 crore has already been allocated to the state government for providing transit housing to the migrants.
An estimated 4.5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits had migrated from the Valley over 20 years back, fearful of the insurgency in the state.