Give Kashmiri Pandits Minority Status even if definition needs relook: NCM Chief

Kuldeep Pandit, who is a migrant, came from Jammu along with his family, to attend the occasion of MEla Kheer Bhawani inside the temple compound at Tulmul Ganderbal. (FPK Photo/Vikar Syed)

Srinagar: The Kashmiri Pandits – who fled Valley in early 1990s – may soon get minority status, courtesy the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) government.

Gayorul Hasan Rizvi, who was recently elected as new National Commission of Minorities (NCM) chairperson by the NDA led government, has said that Kashmiri Pandits should be given minority status in India “if the definition of minorities needs a relook”.

Rizvi was appointed as the NCM chairperson on May 26

He said that he will take up the issue with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi led union government.

“If the definition of minorities has to be relooked at, it is my opinion that Kashmiri Pandits should be the first people to be accorded that status,” he told The Indian Express.

He, however, said that he was conscious of the fact that Article 370 keeps Jammu and Kashmir outside the purview of the NCM.

“When minorities in the entire country have that status, and privileges and opportunities that come with it, why should Kashmiri Pandits, who are a minority in their home state, be left out? It is something that Parliament will have to decide, but I will definitely raise the matter in the appropriate forum,” he added.

Rizvi is former national general-secretary of the BJP minority morcha.

“Leh has the maximum number of Buddhists, and yet the Commission can do nothing about Kashmir. There is no point trying to change that,” he added.

“But as far as Pandits are concerned, at least by giving minority status, we can ensure their rights here, in Delhi,” he further said.

The Kashmiri Pandits fled valley when armed resistance started. They are living across India and many of them have successfully settled in outside India as well.

They have been seeking the minority status and BJP has been promising the community of such a status since the election days.

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