On I-Day, Malik says govt committed to return of Pandits

Srinagar, Aug 15 (IANS) Independence Day was observed in the Kashmir Valley amid tight security on Thursday, with Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik saying the government is committed to the return of Pandits to the Kashmir Valley.

The Independence Day function was held at the Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium where Malik hoisted the tricolour.

This was Jammu and Kashmir's first Independence Day following the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and the splitting of the state into two Union Territories: Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

All roads leading to the venue were sealed off. Security forces were deployed in large numbers at the stadium and outside. Only those with permission could get into the stadium.

Mainstream political leaders were not present in the function as most of them have been arrested after the scrapping of Article 370. However, some second rung BJP leaders attended the event.

Addressing the gathering, Malik said the government was committed to the safe return of Kashmiri Pandits who had fled the Valley in thousands in 1990 as militancy erupted and they were threatened.

Malik said that stone-pelting incidents had come down and the recruitment of Kashmiri youth in terror outfits had also reduced.

Earlier, after unfurling the flag, the Governor inspected a parade by security forces while school children presented colourful dance programmes.

--IANS

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