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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

‘Some have started leaving’: Pandits slam Indian administration in Kashmir even as 10-day leave is given to minority employees

As a spate of targeted killings rock Kashmir, a Kashmiri Pandit organization on Friday said some employees from the community, who were provided government jobs under a rehabilitation package in 2010-11, have started moving to Jammu quietly fearing for their life.

The administration, meanwhile, has given a holiday of 10 days to employees from the minority community, official sources said.

A woman principal and a teacher were shot dead at a point-blank range inside a government school in the heart of the city on Thursday, taking to seven the number of unarmed killings by militants in Kashmir Valley in five days. Of the seven, four were from minority communities.

In this year 28 such killings have taken place with 21 among them being from the majority community.

With these targeted killings, members of the Kashmiri Pandit community who were provided employment under the Prime Minister’s rehabilitation program in 2010-11, fear the militant groups would target them too.

“Around 500 people or more have started leaving from different areas like Budgam, Anantnag, and Pulwama. There are some non-Kashmir pandit families who have also left. It is 1990 revisited,” says Sanjay Tiku, president of Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS).

“It may seem invisible but migration is going on and I was anticipating this. We had requested an appointment from the Lt Governor’s office in June, but have not been given time till now,” Tiku, who has never migrated out of the valley, said.

He said such developments are noticed much these days due to social media, and “we are aware of who all have left.”

The KPSS says it is now evidently clear that the Confidence Building Measure of providing employment to the Kashmiri migrants is not appreciated by the anti-minority forces. He also slammed the administration.

Vessu migrant camp in the Qazigund area of South Kashmir which houses around 380 families became an epicenter of administrative actions Friday morning when Anantnag Deputy Commissioner Piyush Singla along with police officers pleaded the families not to leave the transit camp.

“He assured us complete security and requested us not to move to Jammu,” said Sunny Raina, President of Vessu camp package employee association.

The organization, which has 4,284 employees, had written a letter to the chief secretary expressing fear for their lives.

“In a state of extreme fear and panic, we bring to your kind notice that the whole of the minority populace of Kashmiri Pandits dispensing their duties in Kashmir feels scared of the emerging grave, an anti-minority situation in Kashmir.

“Due to recent brutal and gruesome selective killings of members of Hindu community, all employees who belong to the same community feel insecure and frightened,” they wrote.

“The emerging situation reminds us of the similar situation that of decade 1990s, which led to the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits,” the memorandum said, adding the same loss of lives cannot be afforded by the community again.

Raina argues that while the camps where they stay are completely secure, there are several hundred employees residing outside these camps and have to attend to their duties in far-flung areas.

“It seems that the administration is not capable enough to provide security to all the employees and therefore, we have asked the chief secretary to exempt us from the duties till the situation returns to normal,” he said.

Raina said that while 20 percent of 380 families had left on Thursday, some families moved out even Friday before the Deputy Commissioner came to the camp.

Vinod Raina, who is the President of PM package employee’s association at Mattan, an area in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, says that around 250 people living outside the transit camps have left for Jammu since the attack on the minority community started a few days back.

“When the news of the killing of teachers in Srinagar reached, our fellow colleagues belonging to the Muslim community escorted us back to the camp. The bonhomie between the two communities is strong and I hope it stays like that,” says Raina, who was employed as a teacher in 2010.

He said that some of the migrant employees staying outside transit camps have already shifted their base to Jammu.

“This is sad,” says another employee who did not wish to be named. “And the pace at which the government has been functioning for the last few years is not encouraging.”

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