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Package for pandits irk migrants from Jammu hills

Friday June 22, 2012 08:36:40 AM, IANS

Jammu: While Kashmiri pandits, forced out of Kashmir Valley, are happy over the state government recommending more relief for them, the victims of militancy from hilly areas of Jammu region are feeling like "children of a lesser God".

As per a revised package which was recommended by Jammu and Kashmir government to the union Home Ministry Wednesday, cash relief for Kashmiri pandit migrants has been increased to Rs.12,000 from Rs.5,000 a month per family.

This move of the state government has led to migrants, both Hindus and Muslims from Jammu, who were also victims of militancy, complaining of discrimination and step-motherly treatment.

According to Koushal Sharma, President of Doda migrants association: "There are about 5,000 families who migrated from remote mountainous areas in Jammu region to Jammu city for safety when militancy was at its peak there."

The areas from where they migrated include far-flung areas of Doda, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Ramban, Poonch and Rajouri.

Koushal told IANS that the migrants from mountainous areas in Jammu region were initially not getting any relief unlike the Kashmiri pandit migrants who migrated from Valley when militancy erupted.

"We were just given tents in Beli Charana (a locality on the outskirts of Jammu) area and nothing besides that," he said.

The migrants filed a case and "it was only after the order of the high court that we have started getting some relief", he said.

Jammu migrants are put in four categories for relief. The first category family gets Rs.4,000 per month with ration, second Rs.1,600 per month with ration, third just ration while fourth only receive free water and electricity.

Mohi-ud-Din Beg, another leader of Doda migrants, said: "We fail to understand that on what basis these categories have been made."

"We do not have as much political backing as the Kashmiri pandits, that is why no one pays heed to our genuine grievances. Our miseries are piling everyday. We are shocked at silence of human rights groups on this," Beg said.

Som Nath, a migrant from Rajouri district, says: "The migrants from hilly areas of Jammu region include both Hindus and Muslims who are suffering due to government's step-motherly treatment despite court's direction in our favour."

Most of these migrants have now started working as labourers in fields, construction sites and factories.

Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation, Raman Bhalla, who is the architect of enhanced relief and rehabilitation package of Kashmir pandits said: "We are also working on onetime relief to migrants of Jammu region so that they can go back to their villages and settle there."

He said the government is planning to give Rs.5,00,000 to each family of migrants from mountainous areas of Jammu region to "enable them to go back to their homes".

Abdul Aziz Khan, a resident of remote area in Budhal of Rajouri district laments: "This again amounts to discrimination with us."

He points out that enhanced package envisages an amount of Rs.20,00,000 to Kashmiri pandit migrants desirous of going back to Valley to rebuild their damaged houses.

Bhalla responding to this said: "In case of Kashmiri pandit migrants, it is matter of taking them back to the Valley."

Kashmiri pandit migrants, about 350,000 of whom migrated from Kashmir Valley in 1990, majority settled on the edges of Jammu and rest in other parts of the country.

They are getting Rs.5,000 per month as cash relief, along with health facilities, about 6,000 jobs have been reserved for those willing to return to Valley and a satellite township has been made for them in Jagti (in outskirts of Jammu) where they have been provided 4,218 flats having facilities of hospital, school, park and community hall.

More jobs would be created for those willing to return to Valley and age relaxation of three years will be given to job seekers in Kashmir.







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