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Mufti plans trip for migrant kids

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | September 28, 2003 00:29 IST

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed's plans to take young Pandits from migrant camps on a trip to the valley.

According to a J&K police official, the Mufti plans to take 400 boys in the first phase so they get a feel of their homeland.

The move, announced by the CM at a function in Punjab last week, is meant to instil confidence among the migrants before efforts are made to resettle them in the valley.

"These children will be given full security cover right from Delhi itself and will be brought back after the trip and handed over to their parents," said the official.

However, not everyone is so enthusiastic.

"Why should we send our children to Kashmir?" asked a Pandit who had migrated from Srinagar to Delhi in 1992.

Sunil Shakdhar of the Kashmir Samiti said the Pandits are not waiting for the Mufti to make such an offer.

"From time to time we have been taking our children to see their homeland. We are not dependent on the state government. If the Mufti is serious about the move then he should sit with us in Delhi and discuss his project point by point. Seeing homeland does not mean going to Nishat Garden or having a boat ride in a shikara in Dal Lake or visiting Pahalgam or Gulmarg.

"We definitely want to go back to our homes, but then they have to create an environment for our return. We have to be sure that we will be safe in Kashmir."

However, Ashok Bhan, member of the Kashmir Committee led by noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani, was positive.

"If what is being told to us is correct then we should welcome the move. After all our children should see their homeland, but the state government will have to ensure total protection to our children," Bhan said.

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