Faced with criticism over a notice that asked Kashmiri Pandits to register themselves for undertaking pilgrimage to shrines of Mata Kheer Bhawani in Kashmir, the J&K government on Monday revoked the controversial directive and also shunted out the officer who had issued the notice.
In a damage control move, the government attached K K Sidha, deputy commissioner Relief Organisation, for “arbitrarily” issuing the notice in which Kashmir Pandits had been asked to fill up consent forms for undertaking visit to Mata Kheer Bhawani shrines. Sidha himself is a Kashmir Pandit.
The notice issued on May 10 had directed all the Kashmiri migrants desirous of undertaking pilgrimage to Mata Kheer Bhawani shrines in Tulmulla Ganderbal, Tikker Kupwara, Manzgam Kulgam and Mattan Anantnag to provide their consent on a prescribed format to the concerned zonal officer/camp commandant by or before May 20.
“I was not aware about the notice. It has been issued without my knowledge,” minister for disaster management, rehabilitation and reconstruction, Javaid Mustafa Mir told a hurriedly called news conference here.
The minister said the officer who issued the notice has been relieved from the department and the “general administration department has been asked to attach him.
“I have also ordered an inquiry to look into it. I think it is a mistake on the part of the officer and I do not think there was any deliberate attempt,” he said.
The inquiry committee headed by the administrative secretary of disaster management, rehabilitation and reconstruction comprises of the additional secretary and the director finance of the department.
The minister said the Kashmiri Pandits are sons of the soil and they don’t need to take or ask for the permission to come here.“We cannot have them questioned or scrutinized. They can come anytime and need not to register themselves for carrying out the visit. They are our part and we cannot question them on their entry or exit. This is totally unacceptable and I regret it,” the minister said.
When contacted, Sidha said there was no malafide intention behind the notice. “This (issue of the notice) was done to facilitate accommodation and transportation for the pilgrims who intend to visit the shrines. What wrong I have done? Where is my fault?” he asked. “Every year information is sought from those who intend to visit these shrines. How can the deputy commissioners (in Kashmir) make arrangements for the pilgrims when they don’t have information about the number of people visiting.”