Kashmiri Hindus employed under the PM rehabilitation package are living under “extreme fear” in Kashmir and could be killed by terrorists at any time, submitted a fact-finding committee, recommending the government to shift such employees out of the Valley and enact a law against genocide.
The three-member committee consisting of Amit Raina, Vithal Chowdhary, and Rahul Kaul was constituted by prominent organisations working for the rights of Kashmiri Pandits, like Panun Kashmir, Roots in Kashmir and Youth 4 Panun Kashmir. The team toured Jammu and Kashmir for six days and interacted with Hindus living in different areas of the Valley.
“Almost all of the employees and their family members are scared and living in constant fear. All feel that it is a matter of time before they will be targeted and killed. The employees feel that they are discriminated by most of their colleagues and seniors,” the committee said in its report.
The fact-finding committee said that women wearing bindi or sindoor or any other mark of Hinduism are more vulnerable whereas the children are the worst affected.
“They (children) have to live within the four walls of the house in case of a rented accommodation or within the transit camp areas, thus impacting their overall psychological health,” it said.
As per an assessment, nearly 4000 Hindus are working in 40 departments of J&K under the PM package. Several of them have been killed in cold blood by terrorists in the recent spree of targeted killings, prompting demands for their relocation out of Kashmir.
In fear, the Hindu employees stopped attending offices. Kashmiri activists have alleged that the administration of J&K LG Manoj Sinha stopped their salaries instead of listening to their grievances.
“The employees currently stationed in Kashmir are not staying out of their own will, most of them are compelled because their children have schools and they don’t want to jeopardize their education,” observed the committee.
It further said: “The government stopping the salary of PM Package employees has made employees economically vulnerable. Many have liquidated their investments and some women have had to sell the jewellery to feed their family.”
In its five-pointer recommendation, the committee said the government should revoke the “unconstitutional bond signed by employees”, and declare the PM package as an economic package, and enact a bill to prevent genocide.
The report also recommended setting up of a genocide tribunal to initiate trials in case of the killing of Kashmiri Pandits. “If it feels, the tribunal may constitute Special Investigations Team (SIT) to assist in investigating the crimes of genocide,” it submitted.
On the rehabilitation of the victims of the Kashmiri Pandits’ genocide back to Kashmir, the committee said that it should take place in accordance with a victim-centred and victim-friendly approach.
“The report will be submitted to the Union home ministry. We also plan to file a petition before the Supreme Court for reopening cases of the murder of Kashmiri Pandits during their exodus in the 90s,” Amit Raina, a member of the fact-finding committee, told The New Indian.