Kashmiri Pandits displaced from the Valley in the 1990s hailed the scrapping of Article 370, hoping it would bring peace to the region and pave the way for return to their homeland with honour and dignity.
Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora (GKPD), a body representing the community across the world, said the decision cements territorial, political and cultural unity of the Indian Union.
“August 5, 2019 will go down in the history of the country as a day that has put the lasting seal on the sovereignty of Parliament over the entire Indian Union,” it said in a statement.
“The draft bill presented by Home Minister Amit Shah in Parliament vindicates the ideals of our great leaders like Syama Prasad Mukherjee, Deendayal Upadhyaya, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and others who dedicated or sacrificed their lives for the integrity and sovereignty of India,” the GKPD added.
This is for the first time that the exiled community has heaved a sigh of relief that its identity, culture and symbols of heritage will find full protection and perpetuation under the union territory dispensation, it said.
“With the abolition of Article 370, the Government of India will be able to bring Jammu and Kashmir nearer to the rest of the nation,” said Manoj Bhan, president of the Jammu and Kashmir Vichaar Manch.
The Kashmiri Pandit community hopes that the Modi government will chalk out a road map of their return to the Valley soon, he said. “We want a separate settlement in the Valley where all Kashmiri Pandits, who borne the brunt of forced exodus, can live together,” Bhan added.
Amit Raina from ”Roots in Kashmir” said the decision has put to rest the suspicion over complete integration of Kashmir into Indian Union. The root cause of the Kashmir issue is that there is no free flow of Indian Constitution in the state. With the Union Territory status, that will also happen. It will also spur the development of Ladakh, he said.
Sumeer Changroo from Kashmir Samiti Delhi claimed around 7.5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee the Valley in the 1990s. “Loudspeakers blared warnings, asking Kashmiri Pandits to fled the Valley, leaving their women behind. It’s impossible to forget the horror, the macabre nights… Now, we will able to return to our homeland,” he said.
“August 5 will go down as Kashmir Liberation Day. Liberation from dynastic rule, liberation from corruption, liberation from an unjust State. Liberation for every part of this diverse state. Liberation for all,” KN Pandita said.