Declare Kashmiri Pandits as victims of genocide, IDPs: Congress MP

The Kashmiri Pandits (Recourse, Restitution, Rehabilitation and Resettlement) Bill, tabled by Congress MP Vivek Tankha in the Rajya Sabha on Friday

New Delhi: The Kashmiri Pandits (Recourse, Restitution, Rehabilitation and Resettlement) Bill, tabled by Congress MP Vivek Tankha in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, seeks ‘Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) status for Kashmiri Pandits and declaration of the community as a victim of genocide besides social, political, and economic rehabilitation.

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Coming amid the din created by ‘The Kashmir Files’ movie, the Bill seeks the release of a white paper on the issue of Kashmiri Pandits documenting all events in the Kashmir Valley pertaining to the atrocities and plight of the minority community starting from 1988 till the enactment of this Act.

The Bill says that the white paper be prepared by a high-level committee comprising retired Chief Justice of India as the Chairman; two retired judges of the Supreme Court of India, two sitting MPs; two former MPs; four sitting or former MLAs/Council of Jammu; and four other individuals.

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The high-level committee should rely on depositions given by witnesses and lay special focus on the reports and judgments of the Supreme Court and the high courts of India, the National Human Rights Commission, reports of any Parliamentary standing committee/sub-committees set up for the purpose of examining the issue of Kashmiri Pandits.

The Bill also seeks granting minority status to Kashmiri Pandits in terms of Clause (c) of Section 2 of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 within two months from the date of enactment of this Act.

It also seeks the declaration of Kashmiri Pandits as victims of genocide and change in their official nomenclature to ‘Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs).

It has been a long standing demand of the Kashmiri Pandit community to probe the exodus and to bring justice to the community.

The community claims that over 700 members have been killed of which around 100 were killed from March 1989 to March 1992. However, in the majority of the cases, FIRs were never registered.

Besides the targetted killings, many women were rape, hundreds were kidnapped and tortured, thousands of houses looted and burnt and several temples desecrated. After they were forced to leave, many properties were usurped and lands grabbed.

Recently, the US-based non-profit, International Commission for Human Rights and Religious freedom (ICHRRF), recognised the 1989-1991 atrocities on Kashmiri Hindus as an act of genocide.

It called upon the Centre and the government of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir to acknowledge and recognise the 1989-1991 atrocities on Kashmiri Hindus as an act of genocide.

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