A Kashmiri Pandit woman at a refugee camp

More than 300 applications are pending with the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants) for allotment of accommodation to registered Kashmiri migrant families

After the Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday issued show-cause notices to almost 100 illegal occupants of apartments in Kashmiri migrant neighbourhoods in Jammu, a senior official said an exercise was underway to evict such people and accommodate genuine Kashmiri Pandit migrants instead in the government-built flats.

“We have issued a notification after we found that 93 flats have been occupied in violation of norms. It’s a beginning and we are trying to do thing as per the law. These flats are locked out since long,” relief commissioner (migrants) TK Bhat said.

More than 300 applications are pending with the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants) for allotment of accommodation to registered Kashmiri migrant families, Bhat said.

“During an extensive exercise undertaken by the officers of relief organization, it emerged that 93 flats in Kashmiri migrants’ colonies and camps at Muthi, Nagrota, Purkhoo and mini township Jagti have been found to be illegally occupied by the people who have not been allotted these flats,” he added.

Consequently, show cause notices have been served to such illegal occupants, who have been asked to submit their response in writing, citing justifiable reasons as to why their allotments should not be cancelled and the flats taken over by the relief organization. The occupants have been asked to respond to the notices by March 10.

The migrants are Hindu Pandits who fled the Kashmir valley after the outbreak of separatist violence in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“Only genuine Kashmiri Pandit families displaced due to terrorism from Kashmir should get these flats. There are many Pandit families who are dependent on cash relief for their sustenance and live in rented accommodation,” Shadi Lal Pandita, president of the Jagti Tenement committee in Nagrota, said.

Pandita said the people who had been allotted the flats do not live in them. “Some of them have moved to Delhi, Bangalore and other cities. Some of them have gone abroad. They have constructed their own houses and are living in them but at the same time there are migrants living in rented accommodations and sustaining their lives on government relief. They are the deserving cases but are suffering. Genuine cases should be given the accommodation and not those having constructed their own houses,” he added.

Pandita also said that besides the 93 flats under illegal occupation, there were more than 100 other flats where people, after allotment, never moved in.

“In the past seven years I didn’t see anyone in those flats. None came to live in them,” he added.

Pandita said migrant families that were initially allotted two-room flats comprising a room, a small lobby, a kitchen and a wash room, have also grown in size to eight to 12 members.

“It would be appropriate if the government allots those illegally occupied flats and the ones that were never used, to such deserving families. These are the families having old and ailing members and some among them are battling cancer,” added Pandita.

Jagti Satellite Township constructed by the United Progressive Alliance government for Kashimiri Pandit migrants has 4,226 flats

In September last year, the government ordered a reverification of the quarters allotted to Kashmiri Pandit families living in various camps at Nagrota, Muthi, Purkhoo and Jagti. The step was taken after more than 200 flats were found locked for years together in Jagti.

There were also allegations that guidelines issued by state government in 2013 for allotment of flats had been violated. The entire exercise was initiated in 2018 after inhabitants of such camps demanded a high-level probe to nail officials who had denied flats to deserving families and favoured people with political links.