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All Kashmiri Hindus are not Kashmiri Pandits: High Court of J&K and Ladakh Kashmiri Pandits

All Kashmiri Hindus are not Kashmiri Pandits: High Court of J&K and Ladakh

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 15 Sep 2021, 11:56 pm

Srinagar: High Court of J&K and Ladakh Tuesday ruled that all Kashmiri Hindus are not Kashmir Pandits.

“It is difficult, to accept the contention of counsel for the petitioners that the petitioners, who are mostly Kshatriyas, Rajputs, Scheduled Caste non-Kashmiri Brahmins etc. etc. should be treated as Kashmiri Pandits and admitted to the  benefits of Prime Minister’s revised package for return and rehabilitation of  Kashmiri migrants given effect to by the Rules of 2009 read with SRO 425 of 2017, a bench of Justice Sanjeev Kumar said.

On behalf of the petitioners, advocate Altaf Mehraj argued that in the absence of any definition of “Kashmiri Pandits” given in the SRO, all Hindus, who are staying in the Kashmir Valley and did not migrate like non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits, should be treated as “Kashmiri Pandits”.

Observing that it is true that neither in SRO 425 nor in the Rules of 2009 as amended vide SRO 425 of 2017, the term “Kashmiri Pandit family” has been defined, the Court said: “What is, however, defined in Rule 2(ca) is the term “Kashmiri Pandit” which means a person belonging to “Kashmiri Pandit Family”  who has not migrated from Kashmir Valley after 1st of November, 1989 and is presently residing in Kashmir Valley.

In the absence of a specific definition of the term “Kashmiri Pandit family”, the only way to find out the true meaning of the term is to apply the common parlance principle”.

There is no deying the fact that in common parlance, Kashmiri Pandit is a community of  Kashmiri speaking Brahmins living in the Valley from generations and are distinctly identified  by their dress, customs and traditions etc. “Kashmiri Pandits'', is a separately identifiable community distinct from other Hindus residing in the Kashmir Valley like Rajputs, Brahmins other  than Kashmiri Pandits, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and many others”

The court said this while dismissing a plea seeking appointments against the quota of jobs provided for Kashmiri non-migrant Pandits under the Prime Minister’s Package.

In their petition some non migrant Kashmiri Hindus had also sought to specify the quota out of 1,997 posts advertised by the government through a notification dated 01.12.2020, for  Kashmiri migrants and non migrant Pandits.

The petitioner's case was that in 2009, government of India issued Prime Minister’s  Package for return and rehabilitation to Kashmiri migrants in Kashmir Valley and the same was implemented by the then state government by promulgating SRO  412 dated 30.12.2009.

They submitted that on the basis of the survey conducted the SRO 412 of 2009 was  amended by SRO 425 of 2017 and the people belonging to Hindu community who had stayed back in the Kashmir Valley and did not migrate in 1990, were also extended the benefits of special recruitment drive under PM’s package for Kashmiri migrants.

On 1st December, 2020 an advertisement was issued for filling up 1,997 posts in accordance with SRO 412 of 2009 as amended vide SRO 425 of 2017,” they said.

The advertisement, they said, was also open for the persons who had not migrated and they were however required to produce bonafide certificates to be issued by  the concerned Deputy Commissioners to certify that such candidates had not  migrated and were, accordingly, not registered with the Commissioner (Relief).

The Deputy Commissioners were also to certify that the candidates seeking the benefit of special recruitment drive belonged to the community described as “Kashmiri  Pandits". The Deputy Commissioners, without any justification, chose not to grant such certificates in respect of a group of non-migrant Kashmiri Hindus, who according to them did not belong to the community of “Kashmiri Pandits”.

Government of India with regard to the living conditions of Hindus in the Valley who despite adversity had opted not to migrate from the valley during turmoil in the year 1990 and, therefore, the benefit of Prime Minister’s Package cannot be restricted to only one community.

“All Hindus who are residing in the Valley and have not migrated, constitute one class and their further classification on the basis of their identities is not permissible in law,” they said.