Minorities in the Kashmir Valley are gripped by a sense of anxiety and fear, with many government employees and teachers from the Kashmiri Pandit and Sikh community returning to Jammu, some seeking transfer, and many away from work due to growing security concerns. staying.
Sushil, a junior assistant in the education department in Srinagar, returned to Jammu early Friday. “We ran from Kashmir on a bike (we fled to Kashmir on a bike),” he said.
The “targeted killing” of a Sikh female principal and a Kashmiri Hindu teacher in Srinagar has left them all edgy and suspicious. “Walking on the road in Kashmir, we had only one thought that whoever is looking at us will shoot us. (On the roadside in Kashmir, we suspected someone was watching us, worried that he would shoot us) Will shoot you),” said Sushil Naveen Bharat.
Security is of paramount concern for those returning to Jammu. Siddharth Raina (name changed) was just two years old when his family fled Kashmir in 1990 along with over one lakh Pandits. In Jammu and Kashmir Education Department under the Prime Minister’s Package.
On Friday, Siddhartha left for Jammu from Anantnag with his wife in what he described as a “sleepless and frightening night”. “I could not sleep the whole night and left for Jammu the very next morning. There are loose statements of harmony and peace, but no assurance of security. If they can go to the teachers and kill them after seeing their identity cards, then who will guarantee the safety of Kashmiri Pandit employees like me,” he told The Naveen Bharat over phone from Jammu.
Sushil said that his Muslim allies were helpful, but it is for the government to think whether the employees of the minority community can feel safe in such circumstances. “Teachers from minority community are posted in remote hilly areas of the valley. What can they do other than return to Jammu?”
The J&K government denied any ‘reverse migration’ of minority community employees posted in the Valley under the PM package. J&K Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner Ashok Pandita said, “We have taken up the matter with the Kashmir Divisional Commissioner and sought directions to all the Deputy Commissioners of the Valley to ensure the safety of the employees residing in secure government accommodation in their respective districts. Is.”
But ground evidence suggests many are returning. Ramesh Kumar, owner of a provision shop in Jagti township, a settlement of migrant Kashmiri Pandits near Nagrota in Jammu, said that many workers posted in Kashmir under the PM package have returned. “I have met at least 30 today as they came to shop after 2-3 months. They said they fled from the valley… Some said they left around 12 o’clock.
Shop owner Ramesh Kumar said, “Jo healthy boys were na, woh bhi aaj bechare har gaye (even men of good physique lost their courage). Even as he was speaking to the Naveen Bharat, the two families arrived in different vehicles from the Valley. They were hesitant to speak and ran to their respective quarters. A neighbor told that he feared pressure from the government to return to his duty in the Valley.
An employee of the Finance Department in Pulwama returned with his wife and two children on Saturday afternoon. “I didn’t want to come back, but my parents in Jammu insisted that we come for a few days till the situation returns to normal,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Another migrant Kashmiri Pandit said that his son has left Kupwara along with his wife and two minor children. “They are reaching here by evening. There is very little one can do in the present circumstances, especially when living in a rented place outside safe accommodation,” he said, requesting anonymity.
Kashmiri Pandits who did not leave even in 1990 are adopting wait-and-watch mode. The heightened fear since last week has forced them to move around with great care. “Unlike in 1990, there is a huge fear and I am suspicious of almost everyone around me. From the incidents of murder with pistols, it seems that they are not even getting weapons training as before. Anger against outsiders started rising after the abrogation of Article 370 and the recent deteriorating situation in Afghanistan has made it worse,” said Rohit Pandita (name changed), of a 54-year-old shop at an upmarket place in Srinagar. said the owner.
However, Pandita is not planning to leave. “I had 4-5 shops earlier and now I run a shop. I have been and will be for so many years. Murders are taking place on both sides of Partition, but the government is silent.
KL Singh (name changed), a Sikh businessman in Srinagar who stayed in the 1990s, said that for the first time in so many years, Sikhs are feeling fear. “Fear has been put in our mind. For the first time a woman in our community has been killed in point blank range. She was doing a humanitarian work to help a Muslim girl’s education, yet she was killed. This is an extreme act and will not be tolerated by us,” said Singh, who is also a member of Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Srinagar.
“My niece, who works as a teacher in remote areas of Kashmir, has stopped going to work. They are demanding safe posting. The recent directive to hoist the flag on August 15 was for everyone, including Muslims, and not just for teachers from Sikhs or other minority communities. But the minorities have been isolated. I have never seen so much fear and silence here in all these years. The killings of minorities should be openly condemned by the majority community.
At a press conference on Saturday, Sikh leaders said the Sikh community would not be distracted by the killing of its members. “They (the killers) must be thinking that after killing four Sikhs or ten Sikhs, Sikhs will leave Kashmir,” said Joginder Singh Shan, People’s Democratic Party’s minority affairs secretary and a prominent Sikh leader. “We are not going to leave Kashmir because of these killings. This is our Kashmir. In 1947, 33,000 Sikhs gave blood for this.
Sikh leaders said they were shocked by the identification and killing of members of the minority community. “Our complaint (with the Muslim community) is that when we took out a procession for the cremation and protested outside the (civil) secretariat, they did not come with us. Our complaint to the government is that two or three members of the community have already been killed, but they did not take any concrete steps to protect the minority employees,” said another Sikh leader Navtej Singh.