Fresh Killing Rekindles Demand By Pandit Employees For Relocation

Jammu- Kashmiri Pandits serving in the Valley on Wednesday held a massive protest against the killing of their community member in Shopian and demanded that the employees in Kashmir under the prime minister’s package be relocated to Jammu in view of selective and targeted killings.

Militants belonging to the Al-badr outfit shot dead a Kashmiri Pandit, Sunil Kumar Bhat, and injured his cousin Pitambar Kumar Bhat on Tuesday at an apple orchard in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, which had seen similar attacks on the minority community in April. This casualty raised the number of targeted killings to 21 this year.

This is the second such attack on a minority community in the last 24 hours in the Valley. On Monday evening, suspected militants exploded a hand grenade at Gopalpora in Chadoora area of central district of Budgam, injuring one Karan Kumar Singh.

Tuesday’s incident was a chilling reminder of the barbaric gunning down of a school principal Supinder Kaur last October.

Hundreds of Kashmir-posted KP employees, who are on strike and have been protesting for past three months here in support of their relocation to safer areas in Jammu, assembled at Relief Commissioner’s office and took out a rally to protest the fresh killing in the Valley.

They were also joined by activists of various Kashmiri Pandit organisations.

Raising ‘Bharat Mata Ki jai’ and ‘Justice for KPs-relocation’ slogans, they took out the protest rally and jammed the Tawi bridge on highway for hours. They sat on a dharna for two hours on the bridge. Police had to face a tough time to remove them from bridge and make the highway trafficable.

The protesters also briefly clashed with police who were forcibly evicting them from the bridge to restore the traffic.

“We have only one demand of relocation of our postings from Kashmir to Jammu as selective killings of Kashmiri Pandits continue unabated. We have been made sitting ducks for target practice of militants”, a protesting employee, Sunil, told reporters here.

KP employees have rejected government’s steps of grant of much delayed promotions, residential accommodations and postings in urban areas, reasoning that “security of life is prime”.

“It is important for us to live for children and parents. We cannot commit deliberate suicide by offering ourselves to terrorists to target and kill us. The government is forcing our genocide in the Valley”, another person, Deepak Kumar, said.

Rajni, who was also among the protesting employees, said it is “better to die of hunger in Jammu than get killed by bullets of militants”.

“Transfer us anywhere outside Kashmir. It is unsafe for us”, she added.

Nearly 4,000 Kashmiri Pandits are working in different departments in the Valley after their selection under the prime minister’s employment package.

They have been on an indefinite strike in support of their demand for their relocation outside the Valley since the killing of their colleague Rahul Bhat. Bhat was shot dead by militants inside his office in Budgam district of central Kashmir on May 12.

Hundreds of the employees have already returned to Jammu and are holding regular protests at the office of the relief commissioner, while their colleagues in the Valley are on protest at their camps, despite repeated attempts by the government to end the impasse by assuring their relocation to safer zones within the Valley.

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