Will there be an end to targeted killings in Kashmir?

Will there be an end to targeted killings in Kashmir?

By Majeed Ahmad

Killing of Rahul Bhat, a government employee at Chadoora Tehsil Office in Budgam in Jammu and Kashmir by terrorists on Thursday, has once again brought to the fore a chilling reminder of the incidents of 1989 and 1990 when Kashmiri Pandits were selectively targeted and forced to leave the Valley.

According to highly placed sources much like its perfidious acts of late 1989 and early 1990, Pakistani spy agency ISI has started preparing ‘hit-lists’ of members of minority community who would be murdered to create tension in the valley.

The list includes many Kashmiri Pandits (KPs), who either stayed back in 1990 or returned in recent years to their homeland. The killing of Rahul Bhat, a government employee, three-days ago and prominent businessman Makhan Lal Bindroo in October last year is part of the ‘hit list’ the ISI has prepared and handed over to terrorist outfits, they said.

While Bhat had returned to Kashmir in 2010 to take up a government job under Centre special employment package for migrants, Bindroo had stayed back in 1990 despite terror threats to run a famous pharmacy in Srinagar.

To “project the killing of members of minority community as a spontaneous and totally indigenous activity”, young boys with no crime record, but known to be sympathisers of terrorists, are being used to carry out the killings.

New terror groups have been formed by the ISI to take responsibility for targeted killings and attacks in order to give cover to Pakistan and known terror organisations like Lashker-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, who actually carry out these attacks.

What is the motive behind carrying out such killings Bindroo and Bhat? There is an argument that successful holding of panchayat, block development and district development council polls in recent years, grass roots level democracy has provided a new momentum to social and economic development in Kashmir.

Besides apparent peace and thriving tourism has frustrated Pakistan and its spy agency ISI who have been making persistent attempts to derail this process by all possible means.

Since August 2019, 14 Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus have been killed by terrorists across Kashmir. From October 5 last year to October 17, terrorists killed eight non-Muslims in a spate of attacks.

The Resistance Front (TRF), a frontal organization of Pakistan-based LeT outfit, claimed responsibility for most of the killings of Kashmiri Pandits and non-locals. It has several times threatened in the recent past that any non-Kashmiri who purchases land or any other immovable property in J&K would be treated as “occupier” and targeted.

In fact, attempts are being made to recreate a situation that existed 32 years ago when the Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of the Valley. Like the brutal murders of lawyer and BJP leader Tika Lal Tapoo on September 14, 1989 and a few weeks later retired Judge Nikalanth Ganjoo by terrorists to instil fears in the Pandit minority community, the killing of Bindroo and Bhat seem to be the repeat telecast of events of 1989-90.

Like 1989-90, minuscule Pandit community in Kashmir this time is also fear-stricken, hapless and finding options to leave their homeland, properties, jobs, farms, and temples. For the last three decades Pakistan and its stooges in Kashmir have been trying hard to blame then governor Jagmohan for the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990.

But they forget that over 30 thousand Kashmiri Pandits had left the Valley by the time Jagmohan took over on January 19, 1990. A few weeks after the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in February 1990, Pakistan based JKLF chief Amanullah Khan had told an interviewer, “Yes, it (Kashmiri Pandits exodus) was a long-term plan and it had to be well prepared.”

“So, we actually started political planning in 1986 and continued till the end of 1987 for one and a half years we were planning our strategy and it began in July 1988,” he had said.

In February 1987, a court in Uttar Pradesh ordered the reopening of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. Massive rioting took place in Kashmir in which several temples were attacked particularly in Anantnag district. An Associated Press report said army units were moved into the streets “with shoot-on-sight orders in Kashmir to stop an orgy of riots, looting and arson Friday against Hindu targets.”

Geared with exclusionist religious passion, generously flowing funds to hardliners, and support of disgruntled Muslim United Front politicians, Pakistan-trained terrorists launched an exodus plan. Posters were pasted on select homes of Kashmiri Pandits and they were asked to leave their homes or face death by bullet.

The killings and exodus of minority communities over three decades ago led to a gulf between Muslims and Pandits, which has still not been bridged. While a few hundred Pandits across Kashmir took out protest rallies against the killing of Rahul Bhat, it was unfortunate to see that not many local Muslims joined them.

Pakistan and its stooges in Kashmir want to drive out remaining non-Muslims from the Valley and they have outsourced this ‘mission’ to terrorists. If the majority community maintains silence on such killings like they did earlier then it would be seen as a covert support to such acts of terrorists.

After the abrogation of J&K special status, former chief ministers of J&K – Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti – have gone on record to say new domicile and land laws were aimed at changing Kashmir’s religious composition. Such statements give legitimacy to the terrorists to target members of minority communities and non-locals.

After every killing, a mere condemnation through tweets or a statement can’t absolve politicians like Abdullah and Mufti.

They whip up passions among the local Muslim community to garner votes. Kashmiri Muslims in one voice need to come out and condemn the killings of minority community members.

There is no doubt that local Muslims have been worst victims of Pakistan sponsored terrorism as thousands among them have been killed. Their silence is making Pakistani terrorists more powerful. Silence is not the answer!

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