Hurriyat Conference and the main Kashmir-centric political parties have rejected Governor Satya Pal Malik’s idea of separate residential clusters in the valley for the Pandit migrants.

These parties have said the Muslims will welcome the return of the Pandits to the valley but oppose building separate residential colonies for them. A large number of Kashmiri Hindus had fled the valley in 1990 when terrorism broke out in Jammu and Kashmir.

A fresh debate has been triggered following Malik justifying the concept of building separate townships for returning Pandits who have fled the valley. He said locations for such boroughs had already been identified and work was underway to develop them.

“Separate township is not a matter of choice but out of compulsion. We have to give them a nice place to stay, of their choice,” Malik said in an interview.

Commenting on the debate over the return of Kashmiri Pandits, All Parties Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Alishah Geelani said that “we” always welcome their homecoming and encourage every move which helps their return. “Let them come back, live as they previously used to, along with their Muslim brothers”.

Hurriyat said that “we wholeheartedly and sincerely want them to come back, but will oppose any move to settle them in separate colonies as it negates the very fabric of our social, cultural and mutual bonds”.

Commenting on the Governor’s statement that separate settlement for Pandits is a compulsion and not a choice, Hurriyat said that “if decisions sub-servant to compulsions, then there is every possibility of fading away the realities under the veil and dust of so-called compulsions which everybody can narrate according to his own choice”.

PDP leader and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday tweeted; “Welcome Geelani Sahabs statement. Its a sentiment shared by Kashmiri Muslims who want their Pandit brethren to come back home. The vacuum created by their exodus can’t be filled unless they return with honour & dignity”.

MP and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah has also opposed separate townships for Pandits in Kashmir. They should return to their own homes in the valley, he said, adding that the Kashmiri Pandit community is an essential part of the cultural milieu of Kashmir and the need of the hour is to defeat the vested interests that are hell-bent to widen the wedge between two communities.He said Pandits are part and parcel of Kashmiri culture but they should return to their original homes not fortified separate colonies that would isolate them from the mainstream of the valley.