J&K admin rejects Kashmiri Hindus’ request to arrange for Navreh Yatra

Satish Mahaldar, Chairman, Reconciliation, Return & Rehabilitations of Migrants, a Kashmiri Hindu rights group has condemned the J&K administration for rejecting their request to arrange for the Navreh Yatra, a celebration of the Kashmiri New Year which takes place on the first day of the shukla paksha in the month of Chaitra (March–April) of the Kashmiri Hindu calendar. In a statement shared with HinduPost, Shri Mahaldar says:


Today we are in a state of shock after we received a letter from the J&K administration (office of Relief & Rehabilitation commissioner, Jammu) dated February 5, 2021, rejecting the “Request for the sanction of the free transportation and lodging for the Celebration of Navreh (New Year 2021) at ‘Sri Mata Sharika Yatra’ & ‘back to village Tour’ by the displaced Kashmiri Pandits (10th to 18th of April 2021).

This is in contravention and contrast to the general essence and stance of the Modi-led Centre which wants increased efforts to help in building the trust deficit between the the two prominent communities of Kashmiri — the Pandits and the Muslims.

Navreh is a festival of Kashmiri Pandits, the aborigines of Kashmir, who celebrate the first day of the New Year with all delight and freshness. Kashmiri Pandits dedicate Navreh festival to Goddess Sharika and pray to her during the day. On this day, special prayers are held at the Mata Chakreshwari temple, known as Hari Parbat in Srinagar. Navreh is also an occasion to celebrate our culture.

This year we propose to celebrate the day as “Partnership for Peace – Dignity for All” which aims to highlight the importance of all segments of society working together to strive for peace. We pledge “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”

The aim is also to relive the memories of our religious-cultural gatherings, which has been affected by the 30-year-exile period. Kashmiri Pandits have always believed in cohesiveness and togetherness. This year the cultural-festival theme honours the spirit of togetherness, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi always shares wishes and love to the Kashmiri Hindu brethren on every Navreh with a heartful wish.

”Union Home Minister Amit Shah (while replying to the debate in the House on extension of president’s rule in J&K on July 1, 2019 ) : “We will be the ones protecting the culture of Kashmir. A time will come when Kashmiri Pandits will be seen offering prayers at Mata Kheer Bhawani temple and Sufis will also be seen alongside them. The Modi government is committed to retaining the culture of Kashmir.”

In March 2020, Narendra Modi government introduced religious Yatra (tour) in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir for Hindus and Sufi-followers The announcement was made by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament. We are unable to understand why some selective elements in the J&K administration are hell bent upon bringing a bad name to the Honourable Prime Minister and Home Minister.

We see a vicious conspiracy to prevent the resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits in the valley in an orchestrated campaign launched by the J&K administration. Despite having various recommendations by the Honourable Home Minister and Prime Minister, the J&K administration is not initiating any steps to promote respect, safety and dignity for everyone between various communities.

The budget estimates of 2019-20 was Rs. 737 crores and budgeted estimated revenue expenditure for 2020-21 is Rs. 1,053 crores which is an increase of 48% as compared to previous year under DMMR (Disaster Management, Relief and Rehabilitation) heading. We would like to forecast how much DMMR funding is going to be spent towards the return and rehabilitation of the Kashmir Pandit refugees back to the valley. We have witnessed that the department has been a part of Rs. 2,034 crore scam.

We want to remind that the Jammu and Kashmir administration relief and rehabilitation department is annually dispersing an amount of approximately Rs. 78 crore to political workers and non-migrants people of the state. Ethically, what should have been spent on the relief and rehabilitation of the persecuted has been mischievously and deliberately given to the undeserving. How can justice be expected from those people who were very much part of the scam?

The J&K government has forced the original aborigines in an involuntary process of cultural assimilation due to which the ethnic minority is left with no choice but to adopt the language, identity, norms, customs, traditions, perceptions, way of life and often religion and ideology of the established and generally larger community belonging to the dominant culture.

Besides the ethnic and cultural genocide, the mainstream political parties, both the national and the regional ones, are equally responsible for the ‘policide’ of the Kashmiri Pandits. Since 1965 the political empowerment has been intentionally denied to the original aborigines and the ethic minority of the state.

Since 1990 more than four lakh people are unable to exercise their democratic rights. They are unable to cast their votes, which is the basic foundation of democracy.

In the light of all this, it is important for the J&K government and the Union of Bharat to rise up to the responsibility towards the constitution of Bharat. The safeguarding of the aborigines is enshrined in the Constitution of our country. Hence, the government must protect the Kashmiri Pandit community by allocating a certain budget towards this.

Ethnic cleansing of minorities in Kashmir highlights the efforts of the national community to respond to modern Genocide. Unfortunately, till date the government of Bharat has not established the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

The BJP advocated for ‘the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the land of their ancestors with full dignity, security and assured livelihood’ in its 2014 election manifesto and ‘the safe return of Kashmiri Pandits’ as a part of its 2019 election manifesto. Seven years into its rule at the Centre, the Bharatiya Janata Party has failed to actualize its own promises, not just made to the Pandit community but also to the Hindu majority country. January 19, 2021 marked 31 years since the violence targeting the Kashmiri Pandit community, which led to a mass exodus.

It is the duty of the Central and the State governments to rehabilitate them back in their land of origin. Let this be clear that the Centre and the State failed to secure and protect its own people against the terror violence in the valley. Had the governments acted strongly since the advent of terrorism in the valley in late 1980s, over five lakh Kashmiri Pandit families and many others would not have been forced to become refuges in their own country. Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants are the victims of democide which led to genocide.

Let us remind those in power that it is the obligation of the State government and the Government of Bharat to rehabilitate Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants back in the Kashmir valley. We were forced out of Kashmir because the whole security apparatus, administration and political will failed us. Had these important pillars of democracy been intact, we would have been living in our homeland. It is the government’s responsibility to do justice and rehabilitate us back in our homeland.

Being patriotic, is this the reward that an ordinary Kashmiri has been forced to live in exile since the last 31 years?


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