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J&K Puts Pandits In Locks, But Protests Continue In Valley

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By: Aakash Ahmad
Updated: May 14, 2022 17:35
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SRINAGAR: The valley continued to simmer as protests against the killing of Rahul Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit government employee, went on for the third consecutive day in Kashmir.

Such was the intensity of this unprecedented protest that the authorities have to lock transit camps for Kashmiri Pandits in the valley to restrict the community from coming to roads and join the protests against the killing of Bhat.

Since Saturday morning, the authorities have locked the gates of Pandit transit camps in Sheikhpora Budgam, Baramulla, Handwara, Anantnag and some other places.

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To placate the community at large, the LG office had promised a job for Bhat’s wife, financial assistance for the family and educational expenses for their daughter.

“A decision has been taken to constitute (a) special investigative team to probe all the aspects of the despicable terror attack. The SHO of the concerned police station has also been attached,” the LG office said in a series of tweets.

Despite the assurances, there is little sign of protest simmering down. Residents of the Sheikhpora camp continued their protest late on Saturday and claimed that the police had “locked them inside the colony” to contain the unrest.

A large number of Pandit community members have staged protests at Press Enclave in Srinagar. They were chanting anti-government slogans and term the shelling of teargas on the protestors as unfortunate.

 

“We ask the government, is this rehabilitation? Did they bring us here to get killed? There is no security here,” the protesters questioned. They also said that they are in Kashmir for their job and have nothing to do with anything else.

The protestors also questioned why terrorists are killing them without any pretext. “They must tell us what is our crime?” they asked while pointing out that the administration has failed to protect them.

On Friday Police fired tear gas shells and resorted to baton-charge when a group of protesters tried to move towards Srinagar airport.

In Budgam, outside the camp housing Pandit government employees in Sheikhpora, protesters had blocked roads and raised slogans against J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.

Amidst chaotic scenes and anti-administration slogans, the protesters questioned the government’s narrative of “normalcy and security”.

Similar protests were also reported from Anantnag in south Kashmir.

Over four thousand Kashmiri Pandits are living in transit camps in various parts of Kashmir after they were given government jobs under a special employment package launched in 2010.

Rahul Bhat is the third Kashmiri Pandit to be killed in the past six months by the terrorists. Pertinently, targeted killings in Kashmir started in October last and the victims were mostly migrant workers and Kashmiri Pandits.

In October, seven civilians were killed in five days – among them a Kashmiri Pandit, a Sikh and two migrant Hindus.

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