Jammu and Kashmir’s identity was “buried on January 19, 1990”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in parliament today, lashing out at critics of his government’s controversial move to withdraw special status to the former state under Article 370.
January 19 is remembered as ”Exodus Day” by the lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits who fled the Kashmir Valley three decades ago, abandoning homes and lives in the face of rising violence and tensions.
“Kashmir is India’s crown. Kashmir’s identity was reduced to bombs and terrorism. In January 1990, that black night, some people buried Kashmir’s identity that night. Kashmir’s identity is Sufi heritage,” the Prime Minister said, adding, “Some said (withdrawing) 370 would lead to fire, some point to a few in jail. This House protects the Constitution, it is dedicated to Constitution”.
In September last year, a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits met the Prime Minister in Houston – during his “Howdy, Modi!” tour – and thanked him for his administration’s decision on Article 370.
The PM acknowledged hardships endured by the community following their exodus and said: “You have suffered a lot, but the world is changing. We have to move ahead together and build a new Kashmir”.
In October, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar announced that the Centre has decided to provide compensation of Rs 5.5 lakh each to 5,300 displaced families from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), who initially opted to move outside Jammu and Kashmir but later on returned.
These families were earlier left out in the rehabilitation package that was approved by the Cabinet on November 30, 2016.
The Prime Minister had announced a reconstruction plan for Jammu and Kashmir in November 2016. His plan included a rehabilitation package for a one-time settlement of 36,384 displaced persons’ families of PoK-1947 and Chhamb.