In a first, the All Party Hurriyat Conference has initiated a formal process to facilitate the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley after a group of Pandits held meetings with the separatist conglomerate here.
The APHC formed a committee on Thursday to initiate the process after the second round of consultation between Kashmiri Pandits and Hurriyat leaders.
A team of Kashmiri Pandits, led by Satish Mahaldar, met Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and other leaders at the Hurriyat office in Srinagar’s Rajbagh. While the team met Mirwaiz at his residence last month, it is for the first time that a Pandit group has set foot in the Hurriyat office.
“This was our second meeting. We first met on the day of Mela Khirbhawani,” Mirwaiz told The Indian Express. “We have agreed to take forward the initiative and facilitate the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley. We have formed a committee to take forward this process.”
In an official statement, the APHC said, “A delegation of Kashmiri Pandits led by Satish Mahaldar met the APHC leaders at the Rajbagh office. The meeting was in continuation of the previous meeting the delegation had with APHC chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq at his residence last month regarding the return of Pandits to Kashmir and initiating a sustained inter-community dialogue to build mutual trust…”
The APHC said that the suggestions given by the group of Kashmiri Pandits would be discussed with “all sincerity and seriousness” with a cross section of people, including civil society, religious organisations and pandits who have not left the Valley to make it “inclusive and broad-based”. While separatists have maintained they they would welcome the return of Kashmiri Pandits, they have been opposed to the idea of settling them in separate enclaves, as proposed several times by the government. Separatists say Kashmiri Pandits are welcome to settle with the Muslims.