India’s ruling party will revive a plan to build secured camps to resettle scores of Hindus in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley, a senior leader said, a proposal that would almost certainly heighten tensions in the restive region.
Ram Madhav, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national general secretary responsible for Kashmir, said his Hindu nationalist party was committed to helping bring back some of the estimated 200,000-300,000 Hindus who fled the Kashmir Valley in the aftermath of an armed revolt that began in 1989.
“Their fundamental rights of returning to the valley have to be respected. At the same time, we have to provide them proper security,” Madhav said in an interview, referring to the Kashmiri Hindus, also known as Pandits.
Madhav said that a previous BJP-backed government in Jammu and Kashmir state had considered building either separate or mixed resettlement townships, but had been unable to make headway. “No consensus could be built around any one view,” he said.
The construction of segregated enclaves has little or no support from the region’s local political parties, Muslim leadership and groups representing the Hindus who fled.
After living side-by-side with Kashmiri Muslims for centuries, Pandits fled for safety after a sharp rise in killings and attacks by Muslim militants when the insurgency flared in 1989.
There is widespread opposition to any push for separate townships for returning Hindus in the Kashmir Valley, ranging from separatists to Kashmiri Pandit leaders.
Sanjay Tickoo, a Pandit community leader who has continued to live in Kashmir, said the idea of building exclusive settlements with enhanced security was an unrealistic solution that would invite a backlash.