Minority Killings

THE killings of the members of the minority community in Kashmir have become a national issue with several major parties issuing condemnations and like Aam Aadmi Party holding public rallies to call for action. In his ‘Jan Akrosh Rally’ at Jantar Mantar on Sunday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called on the centre to “get over with the meetings” and “take action on the ground” in Kashmir. He demanded an “action plan for Kashmir”. He called on the union government not to play politics in the name of Kashmiri Pandits.

Similarly, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has said that the state will stand firmly behind the Kashmiri pandits who are fleeing the Valley, and will do everything possible to help them. Earlier, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the government of India over the killing of a teacher in Kulgam district of south Kashmir, saying Kashmiri Pandits are protesting but ‘BJP is busy celebrating eight years of the Modi government’.

The civilian killings in Kashmir have become a big issue in Kashmir and across the country. In Kashmir, the successive killings have become a deep source of worry for the security forces who are already stretched. According to an estimate, there are around 8000 minority employees including Kashmiri Pandits who are posted in Kashmir, and it would be a security nightmare to protect all of them. Hence the serious concern expressed by the various political parties across the country is understandable.

The concern has further been aggravated by the fresh exodus of Pandit families from various parts of the Kashmir Valley. They have demanded that the government waive off the bond requiring them to remain permanently posted in Kashmir. And if the government gave in to their demand, it would defeat the very purpose of the Pandits’ employment in Kashmir: the purpose behind this was to somehow incentivize the return of Pandits to their homeland.

This is, thus, a very tricky situation and the government needs to do a tightrope walk to ensure both of its ends are served: killings stop altogether and Pandits also don’t leave. But the achievement of these twin goals will hardly be possible by an exclusively security-centric approach, something that many analysts across the country are also advocating. Loosening rather than further tightening the stranglehold is the answer. People should be freed of their sense of siege and be allowed to express their legitimate grievances and expectations without fear of being punished for this. This alone can enable Kashmir to be a normal place again where people participate and also help address the issues and challenges facing them. That killings of minorities is a renewed and recent phenomenon is proof enough that something, somewhere has gone seriously amiss and the government needs to wake up and respond to it.

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