Mumbai: In reply to an RTI, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has provided information on Kashmiri Pandits and the relief and rehabilitation packages being given to these internally displaced persons, which however, do not seem adequate. Replying to an RTI application filed by civil rights activist Prafful Sarda on Kashmiri Pandits, the MHA has revealed that a total of 64,827 migrants left Jammu and Kashmir due to the onset of militancy in 1990s. The RTI sought specific information on the welfare of Kashmiri Pandits. As per the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, 44,837 registered migrants are settled in Jammu, 19,338 registered migrants are in Delhi-NCR and a total of 1,995 registered migrants are settled in a few other states and union territories.
On the steps being taken to provide relief and rehabilitation to the Kashmir Pandits, the reply says, “At present, monthly cash relief of Rs 3,250 per head with the ceiling of Rs 13,000 per family and monthly dry ration of 9 kg of rice, 2 kg Atta per head and 1 kg sugar per family are provided to the Kashmiri migrants.” The RTI reply further reveals that under the Prime Minister’s relief package 2008, approval was given to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir for creation 3,000 state government jobs to Kashmiri migrants, out of which 2,905 posts have been filled. Prime Minister’s development package 2015 also had given an approval for creation of 3,000 additional jobs to Kashmir migrants at a cost of Rs 1,080 crore and for construction of 6,000 transit accommodation in Kashmir Valley for the migrants who were provided jobs under both PMRP-2008 and PMDP-2015. Prafful Sarda said: “On the one hand terrorists are killing these Kashmiri Pandits and, on the other, they are having to survive on inadequate relief material—is this enough? How can a family of four survive with just 1 kg Sugar and 2 kg Atta? How do they expect people to live and survive like this? Nothing has changed for these people.”

Sarda also claims that there is a difference in the information regarding the number of migrants who left, when the same was sought in 2017. The response to Sarda’s 2017 RTI stated, “Due to onset of militancy in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the early 1990s, most of the Kashmiri Pandit families along with some Sikh and Muslim families migrated from Kashmir valley to Jammu, Delhi and other parts of the country. More than 40,000 registered migrant Kashmiri families are residing in Jammu, about 19,000 registered Kashmiri families are living in Delhi and remaining 2,000 families are settled in other states.”

The 2017 RTI reveals a figure of a total of 61,000 families which is different from the February 2020 RTI that states that 64,827 families have migrated. Sarda said: “More effective steps and better rehabilitation policy should be implemented for the survival of these Kashmiri Pandits. No political party made any real efforts to take care of our very own Kashmiri Pandits. It’s been more than 30 years and our own people are treated as refugees in our country. Hope the abolition of Article 370 will get them some justice in all forms—in education, jobs, safety, security and house instead of transit camps.”