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- By ragee1318, March 3, 2012
- By GRN Reddy, February 27, 2012
- By manoj mishra, January 11, 2012
- By Damien, January 5, 2012
- By Damien, January 4, 2012
Government admits that less than a thousand Pandit families left in Kashmir
Jitendra Singh, the Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs announced in the upper house of the Indian parliament that only 808 Pandit (Hindu) families remain in the Kashmir Valley, according to the 2011 Census.
The minister also informed the parliamentarians that the government is providing an allowance of ₹ 1,250 ($20) per month for every refugee. He also said that the government is currently not planning any resettlement drive for the refugees, and only voluntary return is possible now. The minister conceded that 170 out of the 430 Hindu temples in the Kashmir Valley are in a damaged condition.
The Kashmiri Pandits are the only remaining constituents of the Kashmiri Hindu population, who formed the majority of the population in the Kashmir Valley until AD 1500. By the mid-19th century, almost every other Hindu ethnic group in the Valley became extinct due to forced-conversion, genocide and immigration, but the Pandits survived due to their communal cohesion. Thousands of Pandits lost their lives during the Kashmir war of 1947, and many more became homeless. At the time of Indian independence, the Pandits constituted just 5% of the population of the Kashmir Valley.
During the 1989-91 period, more than 99% of the Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee their homes, when the militant organization Hizbul Mujahideen threatened to kill any Hindu who remained in the valley. Most of these refugees flocked to major cities such as Jammu and Delhi. According to the latest census, only 808 Pandit families, consisting of some 3,445 people remain in the valley.
The Kashmiri Pandits have demanded a separate territory for them to be carved out of the valley, known as “Panun Kashmir”. However the governing Indian National Congress (INC), which is considered to be pro-Muslim, has repeatedly rejected the suggestion. The Kashmiri Muslim groups also oppose the division of the valley, and many of the Kashmiri Muslim organizations also voice opposition to the government plans for the resettlement of the Pandits in the valley.