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Committed to return of Pandits, Sainik colony not for non-state subjects: Mehbooba

Srinagar, May 28 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday said her government was committed to the return of Kashmiri Pandits and clarified that the proposal to set up a Sainik colony was not meant for “non-state subjects”.

Replying to criticism on setting up exclusive colonies for migrant Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, the chief minister told the assembly: “We are committed to the dignified return of Kashmiri Pandits.

“For this, we are setting up transit accommodation which would be a composite facility and not an exclusive one. For this, places would be identified. Fifty percent of this accommodation would be given to Kashmiri Pandits while the rest would be provided to people belonging to other communities.

“If the political workers who have shifted from villages to Srinagar city are not ready to go back to their native places, how can you expect Kashmiri Pandits to go back to their native place at this point of time?

“Once the situation is conducive, only then can they go back to their native places,” she said.

On the alleged setting up of a Sainik (Ex-servicemen) colony in the Valley, the chief minister said: “The state government has no plans to set up a Sainik colony for non-state subject ex-servicemen. The Sainik Board came into being in 1965 and in 1975 a Sainik colony was inaugurated in Jammu city by then chief minister, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.

“In the recent past, many meetings of the Sainik Board were conducted following requests that one such colony should be established in the Valley.

“But, up to this moment, no land, whatsoever, has been identified for this purpose. This issue is being exploited by some people for their own interests.”

At this point, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah interrupted the chief minister’s speech and said he had never mentioned that the state government was going to allot land to non-state subject ex-servicemen in the Valley.

“All I said was that you come clear on the issue,” Omar told her.

There has been growing opposition in the state to allotting land for a Sainik colony, and separatist leaders called for protests against the move earlier this week.

The chief minister also justified her Peoples’ Democratic Party’s alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying that aligning with the BJP for government formation in the state by her father was not a bigger decision than the one taken by late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah who chose to support accession to India in 1947.

Mufti and her late father, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, have come under constant criticism from the NC for what it calls “aligning with the right wing Hindu party for government formation in the state”.

Mufti said: “Aligning with the BJP for government formation was not a bigger decision than the one taken by the tallest leader of Jammu and Kashmir, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, who supported accession of the only Muslim majority state with India in 1947.”

On the opposition criticism on holding of the NEET exam for selection to MBBS, BDS and post graduate courses, the chief minister said, “The guidelines of the Medical Council of India (MCI) are very much implemented in Jammu and Kashmir since 1964.

“Is it that you (opposition parties) don’t trust your own children (Kashmiri boys and girls) to compete at the national level?”

She also criticized the national media, especially the television channels, for what she called, “demonizing the Kashmiri youth” saying that positive things are never reported in these channels.

She also blamed the television channels for “Giving a communal colour to the National Institute of Technology (NIT) agitation in the Valley”.

She asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the mandate of the people and he should engage in a dialogue with Pakistan that would ultimately result in peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

“As and when cross border firing takes place in the state, it is the people of the Jammu region who face the brunt of those incidents,” she added.

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