Kashmiri Hindus (‘Pandits’) would soon be able to return to their homeland, said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston hours before he was to address Indian-Americans at the NRG Stadium on Sunday.
In a chat with a 17-member delegation of Kashmiri Hindus in Houston on Sunday, Modi said winds of change are blowing across India’s northernmost region and a new Kashmir belonging to everyone is emerging.
The wave of change began after the Modi government revoked decades-old special status given to Jammu and Kashmir on August 5-6 and bifurcated the state into two union territories.
The scrapping of special status paved way for the full integration of Jammu & Kashmir with the rest of India and gave non-Kashmiri people living there every right enjoyed by citizens in the rest of India.
The US delegation thanked Modi for this bold step and said their 700,000-strong community was indebted to his government.
The delegation presented a memorandum to Modi requesting him to set up a task force to bring the community together, develop Jammu & Kashmir and repatriate Kashmiri Hindus to the land they were forced to flee in the 1990s after the eruption of Islamist militancy in the Valley and threats to leave Kashmir, convert to Islam or be killed.
A delegate from New Jersey, Rakesh Kaul, said Kashmiri Hindus need a homeland where they can live without fear.
The delegation said they were touched by Modi’s concern for their sufferings after their exodus.
On Saturday, Modi also met a delegation of Dawoodi Bohra community who presented him with a shawl.
Modi hailed the community which has distinguished itself across the world.
The community representatives recalled Modi’s association with their late spiritual leader Syedna Sahib.
Members of the Sikh community too met Modi on his arrival in Houston.
In a tweet, Modi said he was delighted to see their passion towards India’s development.