The Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) is all set to go on a hunger strike starting November 22, 2020. This is the second time KPSS chief Sanjay Tickoo will go on hunger strike this year demanding that the Jammu and Kashmir administration delivers on promises made to Kashmiri Pandit families who did not leave the Valley during the exodus in the late 80s and early 90s.
At present there are at least 808 Kashmiri Pandit families still living in the valley, many in refugee camps. At least 150 of these are low-income families who fall below poverty line (BPL). Most struggle for basic expenses like food and medicine.
Security that was earlier provided to members of the community has now been withdrawn and Kashmiri Pandit families, especially vocal community leaders are now left to their own devices to protect themselves. Nearly 600 youth are unemployed. While they had earlier qualified for employment schemes of the government, a delay in implementation of the schemes led close to 100 of them becoming ineligible due to crossing age restrictions. The KPSS is demanding not only financial aid, but also swift implementation of government employment schemes. CJP has been supporting KPSS, which is it partner organisation, in their quest for Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley.
It is noteworthy that KPSS has sent over 110 memoranda since June, indicating the urgency of the situation, the last on August 12. Following this KPSS had a meeting with J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on August 27 who had then assured that action would be taken on the demands made by the group. But when the administration failed to walk the talk, KPSS members led by Tickoo went on an indefinite hunger strike on September 20, 2020.
At the time, the group had released a statement saying, “Disaster Management Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (DMRR&R) Department is punishing left out (Non-Migrant) Kashmiri Pandits – Kashmiri Hindus for staying back in Kashmir Valley. Since abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A we the Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits – Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley are facing harassment and isolation at the hands of Relief Department. Despite multiple directions from Hon’ble High Court and recommendations from the Central Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs, Relief Department is playing with the life and security of the Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits – Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley.”
Ten days later, Dr. Shahid Iqbal Choudhary (IAS), the Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar met with Tickoo and other protesters at the protest site, and gave the group a written undertaking promising that all genuine demands will be followed up, and requesting them to call off the hunger strike. But once again, the administration failed to deliver on its promises.
The group will begin it second hunger strike from November 22, 2020. KPSS lists the following under its Charter of Demands:
1) KPSS demand Vigilance inquiry against the officers/officials of the Relief Department for deliberately stalling and sabotaging Relief and Rehabilitation of Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits – Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley and misusing their official positions to harm Kashmiri Pandits – Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley.
2) Implementation of Hon’ble High Court directions and recommendations of the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding Jobs to the unemployed educated Kashmiri Pandit/Kashmiri Hindu youths.
3) DMRR&R deliberately delayed the process by more than four years as such give one-time age relaxation to all the over-age candidates’ w.e.f. 31.05.2016 (date of the judgment passed by Hon’ble High Court in OWP 1986/2013 titled Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti and others Vs. Union of India and others)
4) Easy and stress-free process of providing Bonafide Certificates to all the aspirants (Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits / Kashmiri Hindus) as per SRO 425 dated 10.10.2017.
5) Monthly Financial Aid to 808 Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandit – Kashmiri Hindu families living in Kashmir Valley
6) Providing accommodation to all deserving Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandit – Kashmiri Hindu families living in Kashmir Valley as per recommendations of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
7) Extension of benefits of Migrant Welfare Fund to the Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits – Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley.
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