JAMMU/SRINAGAR: Emotions ran high as slogans of “Rahul Bhat amar rahe” (Long Live to Rahul Bhat) and “Pakistan Murdabad” (Death to Pakistan) reverberated as the last rites of slain Kashmiri Pandit Rahul Bhat were performed in Jammu on Friday.
Bhat was killed by terrorists inside the tehsil office in Chadoora, Budgam in central Kashmir on Thursday.
It was a sea of emotions as the mortal remains of Bhat reached his home in the Durga Nagar area of Jammu in the morning. Bhat’s wife Meenakshi and nine-year-old daughter Gungun, who was living with him at Sheikhpora migrant colony in Budgam, accompanied the body from Kashmir.
“Pandits are becoming scapegoats in Kashmir,” an inconsolable Meenakshi said. “Kashmiri Pandits who have gone for jobs since 2010 are on the target of terrorists,” she added.
After migrating from the valley in the 90s, amid the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits, Bhat returned to the valley after he got a job at the tehsil office in 2011 under the Prime Minister’s employment package.
Bhat’s brother Sunny, who is working with the police department, lit the pyre at the Buntalab cremation ground.
Bhatt’s father, Bittaji, who is a retired police officer said that terrorism should be completely wiped out from Kashmir. “Until these slogans of azadi are not over, Kashmiri Pandits should not return to Kashmir and if they have to do so, they should be given foolproof security. should be given,” he said.
Bhatt senior also said that he wanted a thorough probe into how terrorists barged into a government office and shot dead his son.
“Kashmiri Pandits should be provided foolproof security at one place and given jobs in adjoining areas of Kashmir,” the protestors demanded adding that Rahul was murdered by those who want to promote and establish Ghazwa-e-Hind. “It has to end at once and for ever.”
The protestors said that Pandits should not be sent back to Kashmir but should be kept in safe camps in Jammu. They said the killing of Bhat is yet another selective murder of a law-abiding civilian. “The entire Pandit society is shocked by this heinous crime,” they added.
The cremation took place amid strong protests and in the presence of thousands of people. Additional Director General of Police Mukesh Singh, Jammu Divisional Commissioner Ramesh Kumar and Jammu District Commissioner Avani Lavasa were also present at the crematorium.
While interacting with Bhat’s father, the ADGP Singh said, “The whole police pariwar stands with the bereaved family and expresses heartfelt sympathies, grief and sorrow.” He assured that every support would be provided to the family by the police.