Exodus in offing?

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KULGAM, MAY 31 (UNI):- Kashmiri Pandits staging a protest at Jammu Srinagar National Highway against the killing of migrant woman teacher by terrorists at a school in Kulgam on Tuesday.

Asem Mohiuddin

On Friday afternoon, a 12 minute long video clip went viral on social media. Few dozen migrant Kashmiri Pandits were seen arguing with Jammu Kashmir police for blocking their roads. The migrant pandits were attempting to flee valley after the news travelled about the killing of Vijay Kumar, a bank manager in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district by gunmen. Kumar had recently joined the office and he was fired from point blank range in his office chamber, the CCTV footage reveals. The news triggered massive panic among the non locals and especially non Muslims who are serving in the valley in various capacities. The dust over the killing of Kumar was yet to settle terrorists fired at two migrant labourers in Chadoora Tehsil of Budgam district in central Kashmir. Dilkhush from Bihar was brought dead to Srinagar SMHS hospital and his colleague is recovering from injuries. Both were working at a brick kiln. The Kashmir in the last few months is witnessing a surge in targeted killings. Gunmen strike at their will and primary target are non locals. This year so far 16 civilians were shot dead.

With no let up in the prevailing tense situation hundreds of migrant workers have already left the valley and others stuck here are building pressure on the UT government to shift their postings to safer places away from Kashmir. Union home Minister on Friday reviewed the situation on ground and summoned all top officials to North block including LG Manoj Sinha. However, it was decided no employee appointed under PM’s employment package shall be transferred outside valley since it will boost the morale of terrorists. On the other hand, the security forces have however, failed to build the sense of security among the non local employees serving in Kashmir who have threatened mass migration anytime soon in case the situation prevails.

“We are slaughtered one by one and the government is watching it all without taking concrete steps to protect us,” said Rahul Pandita who was posted in Kashmir under PM’s package. “We want to leave the valley now and be posted somewhere at safer places. If our demand is not met and the situation persists, we will migrate like we did in the 1990s.” Hundreds of non locals especially from the Kashmiri Pandit community are on roads following the spree of targeted killings. There is an unease and frustration among them. The government as preventive measures have locked them inside their transit camps with massive security buildup outside.  Pandits still feel insecure and unsatisfied.

“Terrorists don’t visit our homes to kill us. They visit our places of posting. The incidents of Rajini Bhalla, Rahul Bhat and others are evident to back our claims,” said Ashvani, a teacher by profession who refuses to join the duties. Ashvani is leading the protest from front and says his community is too small to bear this onslaught. If the spree continues we will no longer be existing in Kashmir.”

Barring the turmoil of 1990s when the Pakistan backed terrorists tried to impose the Islamic rule in Kashmir and forced the Hindu community to leave their ancestral land, Kashmir has no history of communal violence. It has always set examples of communal harmony.

Political experts now blame the attacks on minorities in Kashmir on the situation unfolding post Article 370 abrogation in 2019.

“A commoner in Kashmir is feeling insecure and alienated. He fears losing his identity with land and jobs open for outsiders,” said a political observer, who wished not to be named.

“If this fear continues to prevail, the situation might turn worse and the government of India must come clean on the issue and ensure local populace that their rights are not violated in any case.”

The administrative measures to strike off employees for adverse intelligence reports threatening to lay off hundreds of youths engaged in government departments is adding further to the alienation of locals.

“These might be administrative decisions but they have serious political ramifications. Common people in Kashmir were promised change after Article 370 abrogation. But every day a decision coming out of Raj Bhawan disappoints one and all. So there shall be inclusive growth to build naya Kashmir,” said a politician who wished not to be named and urged that elections shall be held as soon as possible to throw political space open for the common people which is locked after the August 5, 2019 decision.

Dateline 2022

January 29: J&K police head constable Ali Mohammad Ganie killed in Anantnag near his home. Two local militants involved in killing gunned down on May 10

Mar 02: Panchayat member Mohammad Yaqoob Dar killed in Kulgam

Mar 09: Sarpanch Sameer Ahmad Bhat killed at his home in Srinagar. Militant involved killed on March 16 during an encounter

Mar 11: Sarpanch Shabir Ahmad Mir killed in Kulgam. Three Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists involved in killing arrested on April 26

Mar 21: Civilian Tajamul Mohiuddin Rather killed in Budgam

April 15: Sarpanch Manzoor Ahmad Bangroo killed in Baramulla. Three hybrid terrorists involved in attack arrested on May 23

April 13: Satish Kumar Singh, a civilian driver by profession, killed in Kulgam. Terrorist responsible, Shabaz Shah, killed in encounter with two others on May 8.

April 18: Railway protection force personnel Surinder Kumar killed in Pulwama. An assistant sub-inspector was injured in the attack. Terrorists

May 7. Police driver Ghulam Hassan Dar killed in Srinagar responsible gunned down

May 12:  Kashmiri Pandit government employee Rahul Bhat killed in Budgam. Terrorists involved killed in encounter at Bandipore

May 13: Special Police Officer Riyaz Ahmad killed in Pulwama. Terrorist responsible, Abid Shah, killed in Pulwama on May 30.

May 17: Liquor store employee Ranjit Singh killed in Baramulla. Five people arrested in connection with the attack

May 24: Off-duty police constable Saifullah Qadri shot dead in Srinagar. His nine-year-old daughter injured in the attack. Terrorist responsible for the attack identified

May 25: TV artiste Amreen Bhat killed in Budgam. Her 10-year-old nephew injured in attack.  Terrorists responsible killed in Awantipore on May 26

May 31: Migrant teacher Rajini Bhalla killed in Kulgam

June 02: Bank manager from Rajasthan, Vijay Kumar, killed in Kulgam

June 02: Non local labourer was killed, another injured in target killing at Chadoora.

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