Conference on the Plight of Kashmiri Pandits
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VIF, together with All India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS), organised a day-long conference ‘Revisiting the displaced Kashmiri Pandits issue’ on 13 February 2015. ‘J&K: the fractured electorate mandate and its implications,’ and ‘Creation of a legitimate political space for displaced Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir’ were the two prominent themes of the seminar. The conference was attended and addressed by a large panel of eminent Kashmir observers and security experts, many among them owing their ancestry to Kashmir.

With Lt Gen Ata Hasnain, former Corps Commander in Kashmir, chairing the first session, presentations were made by Prof Amitabh Mattoo, Prof Susheela Bhan, and Vijay Aima. The second session was chaired by CD Sahay, former secretary R&AW, and it had four speakers on the panel: AVM (retd) Kapil Kak, Brig (Retd) Upender Singh, Vivek Katju, a former diplomat, and KM Singh, a former member National Disaster Management Authority, India. General (Retd) NC Vij, Director VIF, who presided over the event, laid down the framework of discussions in his opening remarks. Sharing the dais with General Vij in the preliminary session, Dr Romesh Raina, General Secretary AIKS, highlighted the prominent challenges facing the displaced Kashmiri fraternity across India.

While the seminar remained predominately focused on the post-election scenario in Jammu & Kashmir and the Kashmiri Pandits issues, other issues germane to the prolonged conflict in Kashmir such as Pakistan’s continued provocation and interference in India’s internal affairs, Article 370 of the Indian Constitution granting special status to the state of J&K, and the continued relevance of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) also came up for pointed discussions during the conference.

Some of the important conclusions drawn from the conference were: Kashmir is slowly but surely returning to normalcy; the higher voter turn out in the recent election in J&K is indicative of people’s growing faith in the democratic processes; the fractured electorate mandate however is indicative of growing regional and communal polarisation in the state, the fractured electorate mandate should not be viewed as a setback as it provides an opportunity to political parties, adhering to different ideologies, to come together for the common good of the people of Jammu and Kashmir; the agreed common minimum programme will ensure the government, when it is formed, will run its full course; the Kashmiri Pandits provide the much needed ethnic balance to the beleaguered state; the Pandits in Kashmir do have a legitimate political space in the state; they however need to reclaim it with government backing; violence is not innate to the identity of Kashmir, and; Kashmiriyat i.e. the composite culture of Kashmir will eventually triumph over the political violence in Kashmir.

The passage of Temple and Shrine Bill, the creation of Sharadapeeth University, and the creation of inter-dependence among different ethnic and religious groups in the state, were a few amongst specific recommendations made during the seminar.

Event Date 
February 13, 2015
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