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“Senseless violence in Kashmir should stop,” targeted killings create wave of fear, migration

Some Kashmiri Pandit families return to Jagti migrant camp in Jammu after the civilians killed by militants. | Picture: Daily Excelsior

The killings of civilians in Kashmir, especially of non-Muslims, has created fear among the minority community. According to reports, many Kashmiri Pandit families have temporarily migrated to Jammu and other states of India.

Auqib Javeed | TwoCircles.net

SRINAGAR – The recent targeted killings of over seven civilians in Kashmir within a week has led to a wave of fear and migration among the minority community.

On October 5, suspected militants shot dead a well-known Kashmiri Hindu chemist, Makhan Lal Bindroo inside his shop near Srinagar’s Iqbal Park. The area is dotted with police and paramilitary installations. However, the gunmen managed to kill him and fled from the spot.

Minutes after his killing, the gunmen shot dead a street food vendor identified as Virender Paswan in the Lal Bazar area of Srinagar.

The third killing of the day was reported from north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, where militants shot dead Mohammad Shafi Lone alias Sonu in Shahgund village of Hajin town. Shafi was president of Sumo Drivers Association, Naidkhai, Bandipora.

On October 7, two non-Muslim teachers, including a woman, were shot dead inside their school premises in Srinagar. The killing sent shock waves across Kashmir.

Earlier on October 2, suspected militants shot dead a civilian identified as Abdul Majid Guru, a resident of Chattabal, Srinagar in Kara Nagar area of Srinagar city. Hours after Guru’s killing, another civilian, Mohammad Shafi Dar, 45, an employee of the power department, was shot at in the Batamaloo area of Srinagar. He was taken to a hospital with a bullet wound in his abdomen and later succumbed to the injuries.

The killings have sent alarm bells ringing in the security establishment, with opposition parties questioning the tall claims of “tight security”.

Soon after the killings, the opposition parties slammed Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre for their “fake narrative” of normalcy post abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

The targeted killing of minorities especially Kashmiri Pandits has created fear psychosis among them. According to reports, many Pandit families have temporarily migrated to Jammu and other states of India.

Following the reports, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah made a fervent appeal to Kashmiri Pandits not to leave their homes and allow a repeat of the nineties.

“On my part, I am making a heartfelt appeal to all those who will be thinking of leaving the valley out of fear. Please don’t. We can’t let the perpetrators of these terror attacks succeed in their evil designs by driving you out. The overwhelming majority of us don’t want you to go,” Omar posted on Twitter.

With the onset of armed insurgency in Kashmir in the late eighties, thousands of Kashmiri Pandits left the valley and settled in different parts of the country. A majority of migrating Pandits settled in Hindu dominated Jammu region.

Over three decades, different governments tried to rehabilitate and vowed to bring them back to Kashmir. However, with the latest killings, the promises of the government have hit a roadblock.

During the mass migration of Pandits in the 1990s, scores decided to stay back and live in the valley despite threats. ML Bindroo, who was killed on October 5, was one among them. However, his killing has sowed fear among Kashmiri Pandits residing in Kashmir valley that some of them are now “regretting the decision.”

Sanjay Tickoo, president of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS)—an organization that primarily addresses the concerns of Kashmiri Pandits that stayed back in the valley, told TwoCircles.net that several Pandit families have already moved outside Valley due to the latest killings.

“The onus lies on the majority community and the Government to stop them,” Tickoo said.

He said they had already apprised Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha regarding the issues related to the Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits living in Kashmir Valley. “Our pleas weren’t taken seriously,” he said.

Another Kashmir pandit youth told TwoCircles.net they have been telling their parents for many years to leave the valley and settle outside. “Our parents weren’t convinced until now when fears have risen,” he said.

“Now they (parents) have been talking about the migration because of the latest killings happened,” the youth said, adding “the senseless violence in Kashmir should stop now.”

On October 8, family members and relatives of the slain school principal staged a silent sit-in protest outside the civil secretariat Srinagar and demanded justice.

According to reports, members of the Sikh community, the majority of whom were family members and relatives of slain school principal Supinder Kour, walked on foot from Allochi Bagh to the Civil Secretariat in Srinagar.

Jaspreet Singh, a 35-year-old Kashmiri Sikh, told TwoCircles.net that they still wonder why the lady principal was killed and what was her crime.

“The is senseless killing and will create fear psychosis among others as well,” he said.

Singh said that although they don’t have any intention to leave the Valley but “if such a situation continues, we don’t have any option but to follow the path of Pandits.”

On Saturday, the Sikh community said that they won’t attend the duty unless the government assures their protection in the valley.

Addressing a press conference, General Secretary Navtej Singh of the Gurudawara Prabandak Committee (GPC) said that though there were many incidents in the past targeting the minorities yet the government didn’t provide any security to the community.

Singh further said that the government has failed to safeguard the minority community in Jammu and Kashmir.

Amid the killings, the J&K administration decided to grant a 10-day holiday to Government employees belonging to the Kashmiri Pandit community, however, no such order came for the Sikh community.

A militant group The Resistance Front (TRF) claimed responsibility for the killings of Bindroo and claimed he was “posing as a medical professional” and “conducting secret seminars” backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) after serving Kashmiri people for nearly 32 years.

Kashmiri pandit, Satish Mahaldar who is the Chairman of Reconciliation, Return & Rehabilitation of Migrants, however, maintains that the launch of migrant distress sales portal has triggered an anti-minority feeling in some quarters, especially the Land Mafia.

“We had been requesting the authorities to allocate separate land so that migrants can be rehabilitated. The purpose is to drive out minorities, Kashmiri Pandits out from Kashmir & exploit the communal fissures in India,” Mahaldar said in a statement.

He further said that these attacks are a reminder that counter-insurgency strategies have failed.

“The premature and triumphalist claims about normalcy in Kashmir got exposed two months ago when it was informed to the LG office in writing by Kashmiri Pandits that there are rumours that minorities in Kashmir will be targeted. Unfortunately, the LG office & security agencies ignored our inputs,” the statement added.