Several Kashmiri Pandits who were given jobs under a package by the Centre protested against a series of targeted killings of non-Muslim civilians on Wednesday, even as officials said Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha asked for such employees to be promptly moved to secure locations.
Sinha held a meeting on the security situation with top officials on Wednesday, a Raj Bhawan official said, asking not to be named.
“The LG chaired a high level meeting of administrative heads, senior police officers wherein he decided that Prime Minister package employees and others from minority communities posted in Kashmir division will be immediately posted at secure locations and the process will be completed by Monday,” an official at the Raj Bhawan said, asking not to be named.
A woman schoolteacher from Jammu was shot dead on campus at Gopalpora in Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Tuesday, the latest in a series of targeted attacks on migrant workers and Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir. The terror killing triggered renewed protests by Kashmiri Pandit employees, who have been agitating for relocation since last month’s killing of Rahul Bhat, a government employee posted at Chadoora in Budgam.
Union home minister Amit Shah will chair a high-level meeting on June 3 to discuss the situation in Jammu and Kashmir with the Lieutenant Governor and others, an official said in New Delhi.
“In addition to a special cell within the LG secretariat, the General Administrative Department will also have a dedicated email ID for complaints and grievance redressal. There is a need to sensitise the lower rung officials in every department to take up such matter/complaints seriously and on the priority,” the Raj Bhawan official added.
A group of Kashmiri Pandit employees said they would be forced to move out of the Union territory if the targeted killings continued. The group said it was meeting truck owners Wednesday to negotiate a rate for transporting their goods.
“We have come to fix the rate with truck owners. Let’s see if any decision comes from the government…,” one of their representatives said on condition of anonymity.
Rajni Bala, who was from Samba in the Jammu division, was shot dead by terrorists on Tuesday inside a government school in Kulgam, where she was posted. Before her, Rahul Bhat, a clerk in an office in Budgam, was shot dead inside on May 12.
Bala was cremated at her village in Samba on Wednesday. Those who joined Bala’s funeral demanded protection for Hindu employees serving in the Valley.
An angry mob blocked the Jammu-Kathua highway at Samba for nearly 30 minutes on Wednesday to protest the killing.
On Friday, a 25-member delegation representing the Kashmiri Pandit employees met J&K LG Sinha and other top government officials in Srinagar. The delegation demanded safety measures for migrant employees in the region.
A day after her killing, Kashmiri Pandits working in the Valley as government employees largely remained confined to their transit camps and localities. Additional security personnel were deployed around such camps, with from of the employees saying that they were not allowed to venture out of the facilities.
“Even in these localities, we are continuing our dharna…,” Sandeep Kumar, an office bearer of the Migrant Employee Association said, adding that protests will continue till their demands of safety are met. “We want relocation and nothing else,” he added.
Another migrant employee, Anil Kumar, said: “After the fresh killings, majority of the employees and their families don’t want to stay in Kashmir due to security concerns.”
Inspector General of Police Kashmir Vijay Kumar denied that any protester was detained on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, More than 100 Hindu families have fled Kashmir as panic spread after the killing of a Hindu school teacher in Kulgam, a community leader said on Wednesday.
Terrorists on Tuesday shot dead Rajni Bala, 36, outside a government school in Kulgam that lies south of Srinagar – the latest in a spate of targeted killings of civilians.
Avtar Krishan Bhat, president of a Kashmiri Pandit colony in Baramulla, said that around half of the 300 families living in the area had fled since Tuesday.
“They were terrified after yesterday’s killing. We will also leave by tomorrow as we are waiting for a government response,” he said. “We had asked the government to relocate us outside Kashmir.”
Residents claimed police had sealed off a area in Srinagar and stepped up security around places where Kashmiri Pandit government employees live.
The local administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment on families fleeing, but Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, last month assured Kashmiri Pandits that measures would be taken for their security.
Last month, Rahul Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit working at the tehsil office was shot dead inside his office, leading to protests by other employees from the Kashmiri Pandit community who demanded re-location to safer areas outside the Kashmir valley.
“We have killed all those militants who were responsible for the earlier killings,” IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar told Reuters on Wednesday.