valley: ‘We can’t stay’: Kashmiri Pandits reject plan to shift them to ‘safer places’ in Valley | India News

SRINAGAR: For nearly 6,000 workers from the Kashmiri Pandit and other non-Muslim groups at the mercy of targeted killings by terrorists in the Kashmir Valley, the question swirling inside everyone’s head was “Who is next?” The answer came naturally: “Not me. We can’t stay here.”
But they were left with a Hobson’s choice on Friday as the J&K government rejected their demand to be transferred outside the Valley, but decided to shift them from interiors to safer locations like district HQs. J&K cannot give in to Pakistan’s “ethnic-cleansing” plan by acceding to Kashmiri Pandit employees’ demand to be relocated, according to some officials.
“The proposal is impractical. How can we stay completely isolated from the general public? We have to step out, buy groceries etc,” said Ashvani Pandita, a Kashmiri Pandit, who returned with his family to Kashmir some years ago after he got a schoolteacher’s job under a prime minister’s special package to rehabilitate communities displaced by the long-drawn separatist insurgency in J&K.
Most of these “returnees” live in government-built settlements at various places in the Valley such as Sheikhpora, Purkhoo, Muthi, Mishriwala, and Vessu.
About 400 families at Sheikhpora in Budgam district demanded authorities to open the gates of their colony so that they could leave for Jammu. “We can’t stay. No one bothers about their jobs anymore,” said Pandita.
Sanjay Kaul at Vessu camp in Qazigund along the national highway in Anantnag district was equally anxious, though he said his colony has been ring-fenced with security since the killings escalated. “There are 300 families in Vessu, which is well-protected. But we have been asked to report for work at the district headquarters, 12km from my colony,” he said, pointing out that anyone could become a soft target once outside the protected perimeter of their camp.
“The best option would be to send us on deputation to Jammu for some months or a year and let things calm down in Kashmir,” Kaul suggested.
The government’s decision hasn’t calmed frayed nerves and anger or wished away the non-Muslim population’s fears. The Valley has been recording a spike in targeted murders—eight since May 1, including three Hindu workers, and the latest being the killing of bank manager Vijay Kumar of Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh in the SBI-led Ellaquai Dehati Bank branch in Kulgam on Thursday morning.
Protests followed each murder—the first being the killing of revenue clerk Rahul Bhat of Jammu at his office in Chadoora of central Kashmir’s Budgam on May 12. Dalit woman teacher Rajni Bala, also from Jammu, was the next to fall to terrorist bullets outside her school in Kulgam district on May 31.
Bala’s murder has shaken Neeru Pankaj, 32, of Sheikhpora. The teacher travels 60km from her camp in Budgam district to a school in Anantnag five days a week. “I have been transferred to Srinagar after the targeted killings intensified,” she said. But she and her junior engineer husband want to be out of the Valley “as soon as possible” with their five-year-old daughter.
J&K authorities said they won’t be bogged down by terrorists picking soft targets to disrupt the peace that have returned to the Valley over the past couple of years. They also said targeted terrorist violence would not change plans to hold the annual Amarnath Yatra, scheduled from June 30-August 11. More than two lakh pilgrims have already registered for the pilgrimage, PTI news agency said quoting officials.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *