SHOPIAN: The Senior Superintendent of Police Shopian is unaware that the security provided to Pandits living in the district, after a massacre of 24 Pandits in Nadimarg village in March 2003, was withdrawn during the 2016 summer uprising.
On the night of March 23, 2003, 11 men, 11 women, and two small boys of the Kashmiri Pandit community were lined up in Nadimarg village and shot dead by men who were wearing military uniforms. The killers have remained unidentified so far.
The massacre was condemned and criticised throughout the world, from the United States to Pakistan. In Kashmir, it was condemned unequivocally by the Muslim community, though many said it was carried out by “Indian agencies”. The state government blamed Lashkar- e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad militant outfits for it. Then chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed promised increased police protection and government troops were deployed for the security of the few remaining Pandits who decided to keep living in the region.
Veer Ji, a Pandit living in Pargochi village of Shopian, said that the Pandits living in Shopian (in 2003 Nadimarg was part of Pulwama district but is now in Shopian district) did not require the government’s security but it should not have been withdrawn during the 2016 unrest, when it was actually needed. “We never wished to live under security. We are living happily with our Muslim brothers. But if the government was serious about our security, then why did they remove it during a very serious situation?” he asked. Nine Pandit families live in the village and the government had set up two police posts there.
The bunkers of government troops were removed last year from the villages/areas in Shopian where Pandits are living, during the 2016 summer uprising, local Pandits told Kashmir Reader.
Dileep Kumar, a resident of Trapadpora village, said, “During the 2016 summer uprising, the government left us at the mercy of those people against whom they had provided us security. We did not have need of security before, nor do we need it now.”
“We never felt insecure here and we don’t need security. If we had felt insecure, we would not have been living here,” he added. Three Pandit families reside in the village and for their security a police post was set up.
Another Pandit, who lives in Chowdhrigund village of Shopian, said that when the government took away their security, the authorities did not ask the Pandits if they felt safe or not. “For us, the situation was the same, whether before or after the security. In 2016 they took away the security which they put in place for the Pandits. At that time they felt their security forces were not secure in our village, but they did not bother about the security of Pandits,” he said. Four Pandit families are residing in the village and one police post was established for their security.
Another Pandit resident of Pargochi village said that in 2012, militants snatched rifles from the police post there. “A person who can’t save his weapon, how can he save another person?” he asked.
SSP Shopian SA Dinkar told Kashmir Reader that he was not aware of the security having been withdrawn and he will have to check it. “Till date, no one brought this issue, neither police nor anyone else, to my notice,” he said. “I don’t know from which area the security of Pandits was removed. You brought this matter to my knowledge and I will review it. Till then, no comments,” he said.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police south Kashmir, SP Pani, was not available to comment as his phone was out of reach throughout the day.