By Col Tej Kumar Tikoo
17 Sep , 2015
Return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley is the biggest challenge to the very idea of India as a multi-ethnic, plural and secular democracy. Therefore, restoration of that position must remain India’s ultimate aim in Kashmir.
Displaced people have a right to return to their native places. According to UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and the provisions of the Indian Constitution, it is the responsibility of the Government of India to create conducive conditions for Pandits to return safely and honourably to their habitual place of residence. UN Guideline 28 is quite categorical on this issue. It states, “Competent authorities have the primary duty and responsibility to establish conditions, as well as provide means, which allow internally displaced persons to return voluntarily to their homes or places of habitual residence.” This involves the following:
Guaranteeing their safety and security.
Protecting their ‘Fundamental Rights’ as enshrined in the Constitution of India and honouring the same as universally accepted.
Unhindered freedom of movement.
Protecting their inalienable right to livelihood with dignity and honour.