- Congress lawmaker Vivek Tankha is the lone Kashmiri Pandit in the Rajya Sabha
- Tankha introduced a Private Member’s Bill — ‘Kashmiri Pandits Bill 2022’
- Bill seeks to provide for social, political and economic rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits
Congress lawmaker Vivek Tankha, the lone Kashmiri Pandit in the Rajya Sabha, on Friday introduced a Private Member’s Bill — ‘Kashmiri Pandits (Recourse, Restitution, Rehabilitation and Resettlement) Bill 2022’ — in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill seeks to provide for social, political and economic rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, protection of their property, restoration of their cultural heritage, ensuring their safety and security, provision of rehabilitation and resettlement package to them and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The Bill proposes the Central government to set up an advisory committee of 21 representatives from the Kashmiri Pandit community with at least three members drawn from the Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora (GKPD), out of which at least one shall be a woman; two representatives of non-Kashmiri Pandit minorities from the Kashmir Valley; and to provide that out of the total membership of the advisory committee, at least 25 per cent but not more than 50 per cent of members shall be women.
The advisory committee shall have such adequate powers as may be prescribed, in order for it to be able to effectively represent the best interest of the Kashmiri Pandit community as stated in the GKPD’s unified declaration to the Prime Minister to assert the right for return, rehabilitation and restitution and advise the government accordingly, the draft Bill said.
The Bill also seeks that the Government, in consultation with the advisory committee, shall take such measures as may be necessary to establish an environment of economic justice, prosperity and security for Kashmiri Pandits and other religious minorities to explore the opportunities of growth and stability upon their return.
It also seeks appropriate corpus funds for the purpose of grants to be given to 5,000 small or cottage industries owned by Kashmiri Pandits to be created within one month from the date of enactment of this Act. Land and other capital expenditure as may be necessary for such small or cottage industries shall be provided by the government of the Union Territory Jammu and Kashmir. It seeks direct and indirect taxes be waived for the first five years of establishment of any business, a single window facilitation service to be set up and all licensing and other approvals to new businesses shall be made available through this single window within one week of application.
To enhance employment opportunities for the migrant youth who are either already living in Jammu and Kashmir or are willing to return and resettle, the government shall create, within three months from the date of enactment of this Act, 10,000 direct employment opportunities to be filled up by only migrant or domiciled Kashmiri Pandits, the draft Bill said.
The Bill further seeks cash relief of Rs 5,000 per person, subject to a ceiling of Rs 20,000 per family, be given every month to all Kashmiri Pandits, in such manner as may be prescribed which shall be subject to revision every three years.
The government shall set up an enquiry commission within one month from the date of enactment of the Act to investigate into the genocide and mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from their homeland and the commission will have prosecutorial power and the powers to appoint a judicial tribunal, it said.
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