Return of Pundits…! Let People take a call

With Chief Minster Mehbooba Mufti breaking her silence on the return of Pundits, the debate on their settlement in ‘separate colonies’ has once again raged across the political spectrum. Chief Minster on Saturday said unambiguously that Pundits will be brought back and settled in transit camps. She while replying to governor’s speech said that they must be given ‘breathing time’ and it was not possible to send them to their ancestral places immediately as that would compromise their security. This is probably the first statement on the issue from Chief Minster since the controversy  erupted last month after government hinted of establishing ‘transit camps’ for pundits in valley. The idea had drawn severe criticism from opposition National Conference and separatists who objected the idea saying, the move could widen the gaps further between the minority and the majority communities. The issue even brought different factions of separatist camp together who not only opposed the move but warned government of severe consequences if it went ahead with the proposal. They even accused PDP of helping RSS to implement its agenda in Kashmir, forcing PDP leader and Government Spokesman Nayeem Akhter to issue a statement clarifying that it (government) had no such idea. However, on Saturday when Chief Minster made it clear that Pundits would be settled in transit camps, the issue is bound to trigger resentment from the opposition and separatist camp. The opposition National Conference has made its intentions clear even on Saturday itself, accusing Mehbooba Mufti of ‘demonizing’ Kashmiris by calling them ‘Cats’. Although the criticism from National conference or Congress over the idea may  be a major challenge for the government in the ongoing assembly  session, but the major challenge lies ahead from the separatist camp who have already began mobilizing  public opinion against the government plans . It would be therefore extremely important for all stake holders to take the path of reconciliation before it reaches to the point of no return.
The issue has to be treated as a process, not an event. And for that all stake holders including the civil society has to be taken on board besides initiating inter-community dialogue that could help in  removing the hatred and  strengthen heart-to-heart interactions instead of eyeball to eyeball confrontation.