I have never felt as helpless in my life: Sanjay Tickoo
SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir Government has taken multiple steps for the protection of minorities days after a number of killings by gunmen in broad daylight. But when it was time to take action and prevent such incidents from happening, it chose not to.
Not only did the government ignore repeated reminders about the safety measures required for minority communities, it also did not give a chance to Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), a welfare body of non-migrant Pandits, for a meeting with the LG, Manoj Sinha. The KPSS had asked for the meeting to apprise the LG about the Pandit community’s safety concerns and other issues.
KPSS president Sanjay Tickoo, a Pandit who chose to stay in Kashmir when most of his community members left in the 1990s, told Kashmir Reader that since June this year, the body had written multiple times to the LG’s and Chief Secretary’s office, but they did not respond to them.
Not only that, he said, the body even sought a meeting with them, but it was not granted.
Last week, six civilians were killed in Kashmir by unidentified gunmen, two of them Pandits, one Sikh, one non-local Hindu from Bihar, and one a local Muslim. Srinagar’s prominent pharmacy owner ML Bindroo was one of them.
Tickoo asked why these killings have happened after 18 years. In 2003, he said, the Nadimarg massacre was the last when 24 Pandits were killed in Pulwama.
“The question to ask is why are the killings happening now,” he said.
Tickoo was contacted by the LG office after the killings, a chance he was asking for but was not given earlier. This is for the first time in his life, he says, that he has felt threatened by the killings of others. He told Kashmir Reader that never ever in the last thirty years he felt as helpless as he is feeling today.
Satish Mandir is another Pandit whose repeated reminders for a meeting with the LG, and suggested measures for the security of Pandits, were not taken into consideration. Though he has migrated out of the valley and successfully settled in Delhi, he has remained concerned about the fate of Pandits in Kashmir.
“In June, I had written to the LG and the CS of JK many times, but they did not respond. It was one way of reaching out to them, but nothing happened,” he said. “The recent spate of killings is aimed at making Pandits flee, and create a divide among the minorities and Muslims who have been peacefully living together.”
He said the government must take this situation seriously and take steps for the security and welfare of Pandits. He said he travels to Kashmir at least once a month and has been putting up at a Muslim friend’s home. His family too has sold their property in Srinagar to a Muslim family. Now he wishes to return, but asks the government to create a composite colony where all communities live together, not just Pandits.
“This is the only peaceful way of getting us back and letting harmony prevail,” he said.