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Unkept Promises: Pandits in Kashmir battling endless wait for jobs, help, see hope in LG Manoj Sinha
8/9/2020 1:20:57 AM
Early Times Report

Srinagar, Aug 8: More than 400 Hindu youths in Kashmir are threatening a protest after facing an unending wait for government jobs, despite high court interventions. After years of endless wait, the Pandit community finally sees hope in getting political support with the appointment of Manoj Sinha as the new Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmiri Pandit Sangharash Samiti (KPSS), representing (non-migrant) Hindus residing in the Kashmir valley, has demanded immediate government intervention regarding rising unemployment. The group has threatened to go on “fast unto death if demands are not fulfilled”.
“We face mental torture. Years of bureaucratic negligence, the ongoing conflict and now the lockdown has caused immense pain to the Pandit youths. Almost 500 people still await government appointments although the high court granted approval for the same in 2019,” said Sanjay Tickoo, activist and president of KPSS.
Tickoo has been receiving a deluge of calls from the Pandit community due to rising job losses.
“Pandits, who continue to live in Kashmir (non-migrants), are at crossroads. Our numbers are dwindling, no special package has been announced and even jobs are not provided now. Our survival is at risk,” he said.
An official letter is being drafted to send to the government this week. Representations have gone repeatedly to highest echelons earlier, demanding reprieve.
Demands of the group include,
1) Jobs for 500 unemployed educated youth that was recommended by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the high court.
2) Monthly cash relief for 808 families remaining in Kashmir Valley, accounting for approximate 3,000 individuals.
3) Preservation, restoration and renovation of all temples, holy springs and cremation grounds in Kashmir.
Since the emergence of insurgency in the 1990s, lakhs of Hindus were forced to flee from Kashmir. However, some families stayed back in the Valley while a few have returned.
Rahul Tickoo is 28 years old and without a job. A BBA graduate, he lives in South Kashmir’s Anantnag with his elderly parents.
“I am the only child. Every day I await a call revert for jobs I have applied for. Now, it feels like a conspiracy against us because the wait goes on forever. Some Pandit friends even cleared examinations but were denied a joining letter. Why? This looks like a deliberate conspiracy against our community,” said Rahul Tickoo.
According to local activists, the population of Pandits in Kashmir has gone down to 808 families and the number is reducing every year. Maximum impact is faced by young men and women.
“A bigger consequence of unemployment is a marital setback. Young boys are unable to find alliances, first due to the conflict fear and now lack of jobs. Many are forced to move out of the Valley,” Tickoo said.
As per the 2011 Census, the population of Hindus is less than 2 per cent in most areas of the Kashmir valley and the numbers are falling further in villages.
30-year-old Sandeep Koul is a Civil Engineering graduate who returned to his birthplace to work but was left waiting. He approached the court demanding jobs for Pandits in Kashmir.
“The high court upheld that 500 youths be settled in vacancies but no bureaucratic push was seen. I am presently associated with a private company but the salary is erratic. Since last year’s restrictions and then coronavirus lockdown, I have suffered an immense financial setback. Did Hindus in the Valley not deserve special attention, for we continued to live amid bullets? Are we paying the price for staying back in Kashmir,” asked an angry Koul.
Top sources in J&K administration suggest that Hindus residing in Kashmir are “eligible for all jobs as any other domicile in the Union Territory (erstwhile state)”. However, there is “no court-mandated reservation-within-reservation for those who stayed back in Kashmir”.
On a specific query about the MHA recommendations in June 2020 for Pandits still residing in the Valley, Department of Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, UT of J&K replied via JK Grievance Cell that “All posts will be advertised in terms of SRO 412 and SRO 425 (under PM package, for those residing in Kashmir), which provides an answer to your grievances.”
For long, Pandits in Kashmir have struggled for political support. Meanwhile, “bureaucratic shifting of goalposts” and “lack of clarity” have been a consistent grievance among Pandits in the Kashmir Valley.
With the appointment of new Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, a politician from the ruling BJP and former Member of Parliament, hopes have been rekindled among the Kashmiri Pandits but the real action is still awaited.
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