Anantnag: Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits have fled Kashmir valley yet again, despite assurances of safe postings by the administration, as the spate of the targeted killing of minorities continues unabated.
The Pandits working under the Prime Minister’s package or otherwise started leaving the valley by road and by air, hours after a female teacher from Samba district of Jammu was shot dead in Kulgam district.
Thursday’s killing of a bank manager from Rajasthan, in Mohanpora area of Kulgam district, has added to the panic among the minority Pandit community and hastened the process of their return to Jammu.
“More than 300 employees have so far fled the valley,” Sunny Raina, President of the Pandit Welfare Committee at Vessu transit camp of Qazigund, told Kashmir Reader. “Many are leaving today as well,” he added.
Raina said that they have particularly asked Pandits living at rented accommodations to leave for Jammu, “and protest there”.
“We are safe in the transit camps, but they tend to be sitting ducks. It is better if they move to safe locations for now,” Raina said.
Pandits living in transit camps have been holding sit-in protests inside the camps for about three weeks now. The protests began on May 12 when Rahul Bhat, a revenue department employee and a Kashmir Pandit, was shot at and killed inside his office in Chadoora area of Budgam.
They have been demanding their transfers back to Jammu and/or to safer places if kept within the Kashmir valley. LG Manoj Sinha, senior officials from the administration and from police have met the Pandits multiple times and have assured them of all possible help.
The officials have also repeatedly appealed to the Pandits to not flee the valley, arguing that it will be a victory for those “with vested interests”. On June 1, the administration said that all Pandits and minorities from Jammu will be posted to “safer zones” before June 6.
The unabated killings, however, have added to the fear psychosis among the Pandits and other minorities from Jammu or elsewhere.
“We do not want to be killed as the administration contemplates their next move. It is better to stay safe in Jammu and return when things get a little better,” a Pandit told Kashmir Reader, requesting anonymity.
A similar “exodus” of Pandits had taken place last year after the killing of a well-known chemist from the community in Srinagar city. Hundreds of Pandits had fled to Jammu then as well.
The targeted killings, however, have not been only directed towards Pandits. Kashmiri Muslims have also been killed in these attacks by unidentified gunmen. A Muslim TV actress was shot at and killed earlier this month at her residence in Budgam district in central Kashmir.
Another Muslim civilian was shot at and injured in Shopian district late Wednesday evening. He is being treated at a hospital. Policemen on leave have also been targeted by these unidentified gunmen, particularly here in south Kashmir.