Jammu, Aug 2: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Sunday demanded a probe by retired Supreme Court judges into the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley in the early 1990s.
Replying to questions during a webinar, Abdullah said he was of the firm belief that Kashmir is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits and that he would support any mechanism to bring them back honourably. Nearly 60,000 Kashmiri Pandit families are registered as migrants after the onset of militancy in the Kashmir Valley in early 1990s.
Abdullah, a member of Lok Sabha and president of the National Conference, chose to blame then former Governor Jagmohan for the exodus and said that he “took them away” on the false promise of ensuring their return within three months.
During the webinar hosted by Jammu-based Epilogue News Network on the theme, “Discerning old order delineating new order a year after neutralization of Article 370 and abrogation of Article 35 A”, Abdullah was asked whether he would support a genocide bill being floated by the Panun Kashmir, a Kashmiri Pandit organisation demanding a separate homeland for the migrants. He said he would have to go into the details of the bill first.
Abdullah, a three-time chief minister, said, “A sincere and honest judge of Supreme Court, retired judge of Supreme Court, a team of judges…let them investigate and come out with their report. It will clear many minds around the globe, among the younger Kashmiri Pandits, that it was not Kashmiri Muslims who threw them out. There are still many Kashmiri Pandits who never left and they are living here.”
The National Conference leader narrated many instances where Muslims had stood by the Pandit community since 1947 and said “do you think we were happy when they (Kashmiri Pandits) were taken away,” he said, adding “we always believe that Kashmir is never going to be complete unless the Hindu brethren come back and live in peace with all of us”. Abdullah said he would continue to uphold his party’s ideology of treating all the people, irrespective of their religious belief, equally.
“My father never believed in two-nation theory. He never believed that Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and all other religions are different. We believe all are the children of Adam and Eve. Everybody’s needs are the same and so he worked hard for unity. We will continue to stand on the same path and to my last breath, I will work for the unity of all, he said.
In December last year, the Panun Kashmir adopted the Panun Kashmir Prevention of Genocide and Atrocities Bill, highlighting its various demands including permanent rehabilitation based on principles of non-refoulement.
Among other things, the bill recommends creation of a Board and a Commission to look into the aspects of cultural genocide and all the criminal aspects which include investigation, procedure of trial, fixing of responsibility for the crime of genocide, punishment to the perpetrators and compensation to the victims.