New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha, in a “loud and clear message”, has opposed the return of Kashmiri Pandit workers posted in the Kashmir Valley, warning them that they will not be paid “for sitting at home”.
Although Pandit’s workers returned to the valley under the Prime Minister’s special work program after the militant killings left in May, they have not started work for the past six months. They have been protesting the lack of security arrangements under attack by militants and are demanding their transfer from the Valley.
On Wednesday, December 21, Sinha said that all their demands had already been met and there was no question of moving them to Jammu. “We have fixed their (the protesting workers’) salaries until August 31, but we cannot pay them sitting at home. This is a loud and clear message for them and they should hear and understand it,” Sinha told reporters.
Sinha was at pains to point out that all security arrangements have been made to protect Pandit’s workers from future militant attacks. According to him, all the Pandit employees working in the valley have already been transferred to the district headquarters in Kashmir and those working in the rural development department have already been transferred to the tehsil and villages near the district headquarters.
“I kept in touch with the protesting workers and made sincere efforts to resolve their pending issues. Almost all these workers have been transferred to the district headquarters,” NDTV reported.
The J&K administration has deputed one officer in each district and Raj Bhavan to look into the complaints of Kashmiri Pandits, the LG said. On the demand for transfer of reserved category employees who originated from Jammu and posted in Kashmir valley, he clarified that these posts are district cadre and departmental posts out of the valley.
“It should be remembered that they cannot be transferred to Jammu as they are posted in the Kashmir division,” he informed.
Following Sinha’s announcement, migrant Kashmiri Pandit workers on Wednesday, December 21, intensified their months-long protest demanding their transfer from the Valley.
The protesters also said that after the Lashkar-e-Taiba branch published a list of employees of Kashmiri Pandit, the government should fire them as they will not rejoin their services in the Valley without adequate security.
A migrant Kashmiri Pandit and a Jammu-based Reserve Category officer left the Valley in May following the targeted killings of two colleagues. They are looking for resettlement elsewhere in Kashmir.
Following Sinha’s statement, workers of the Kashmiri Pandit Company, which works in the valley under the Prime Minister’s rehabilitation programme, staged a protest outside the Press Club in Jammu.
The administration raised slogans in support of the resettlement, showing the “stepmother’s spirit” towards them.
“This is a sad statement. The government better fire us all. We will not go to the valley for services. Our lives are more important than work,” the protester told reporters.
He said that the government is free to stop his salary. “Our salaries should be used for the development of the country,” he added.
The protesters also said that Kashmiri Pandit staff should not be used as a symbol of peace and normalcy in Kashmir.
“We are in this position because of the situation created by the government. We have lived in the valley for the past ten years. But now there are charts that will kill us. Do you want to go to Kashmir and kill me?” he asked.
He said in a blog linked to the Resistance Front, an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Taiba, that he had issued a separate list of Kashmiri Pandit operatives recruited under the Prime Minister’s Rehabilitation Program and threatened to “turn the transit colonies into graveyards”. “.
“Who will protect us? The administration has failed to protect us from selective killings,” said another protester.
“…We want the government to ensure that Kashmiri Pandits will not be targeted by terrorists in future. If they cannot give such assurance, please accept our demand and relocate us outside Kashmir,” he added.
(With PTI input)