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1,000 Pandit families ready to return to Valley


Sunday 8 February 2004

SRINAGAR : The efforts to woo Kashmiri Pandits back to the Valley have received a boost with over 1,000 displaced families expressing their willingness to return to their homeland ahead of Parliamentary elections.

"1,100 Pandit families have given in black and white that they want to return voluntarily and no one has forced them to do so," Jammu and Kashmir Revenue and Rehabilitation Minister Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen told reporters here.

Dubbing it as a major achievement of the coalition government, Yaseen said it was for the first time that such a large number of displaced families have decided to return which will encourage others, who left the Valley after eruption of militancy in 1990, to do the same.

"We will be providing all sorts of relief to the Pandits who intend to return to their homes in Kashmir," he said on Saturday evening.

Most of the Pandits who have shown willingness to return are living in Muthi, Purkhoo and Udhampur migrant camps in Jammu region.

Yaseen said the list of all the 1,100 Pandit families have been forwarded to Union home ministry for consent.

"We hope the return of Pandits will start soon. We will be settling them wherever they wish to stay. We have started constructing the safe zones in Sheikhpora Budgam in central Kashmir where initially 220 families would be settled," he said.

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The Times of India, Sunday, February 08, 2004.

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