Day after Rahul Bhat’s killing, Pandits say Kashmir no longer safe, seek mass transfer outside Valley

Srinagar: While in the day agitated Kashmir pandits lodged protests, and tried to take out a march towards Srinagar airport, in the evening they were locked up at migrant colony Sheikhpora. They said they are feeling being caged in the Valley after the killing of their colleague Rahul Bhat.

A day after the killing of Rahul Bhat, hundreds of migrant pandits lodged protests at Sheikhpora main road blocking Srinagar-Budgam road. When they tried to take out a procession, the police targeted it with tear gas shelling. The police came under severe criticism for firing tear smoke shells toward the Kashmiri pandits who were seeking justice for their killed colleague. The protesters were waiting for Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha till 11 am and after they saw Sinha wasn’t turning up they decided to march towards the airport road to lodge their protest against the killing of their colleague Rahul Bhat.

Terrorists thursday shot dead Bhat inside Tehsil office Chadoora in Budgam. The killing evoked widespread condemnation and fear among Kashmiri pandits who have been working in different departments under Prime Minister’s rehabilitation package in Kashmir Valley since 2010. The PM package was launched in 2010 and since then around 6000 migrant Kashmiri pandit youths have been recruited under it. Most of the migrant employees are working in the education department as teachers. The killing of Bhat has shaken the community and they say they will prefer their lives over jobs in the Valley. Many of them have volunteered to resign from their government jobs.

Under criticism for firing tear gas shells, the police spokesman in a statement said at about 11 am, protesters who were protesting against the killing of an employee at Chadoora, had blocked main Sheikhpora Budgam road since yesterday afternoon suddenly started moving towards Airport road.

“Although the magistrate repeatedly requested & tried to pacify the protesters not to proceed towards the very busy and over-crowded Airport road, however, protesters while ignoring such persuasions and repeated requests from the administration, kept on moving towards the road while forcibly breaking all the physical barriers en-route and pushing the police and security forces who were peacefully trying to persuade/stop them from moving ahead,” the police spokesman said. “The protesters who were adamant to block the Airport road however did not pay any heed and instead managed to travel a distance of about one kilometre from Sheikhpora.”

The police spokesman said that given the topography of the area and the huge rush at the Airport road there were inputs that militants may take advantage of the same and may attack the protesters in order to create communal clash/tension.

“Therefore in view of this, while sensing the security of the protesters who had resorted to violence and neglected the pacification requests by the administration and to thwart evil designs of Anti National Elements (ANEs), police were constrained to finally hurl few teargas smokes to disperse them. However, the protesters again re-assembled at Sheikhpora road and sat on protest and blocked the main road. Later on all of them went back to their home,” the statement said.

In the evening Kashmiri Pandits who after ending their two days-long protests against the Killing of Rahul Bhat, were kept locked inside a migrant colony at Shiekpora Budgam.

The agitated Kashmiri Pandits who shared the video of a large police contingency deployed outside the Shiekpora Pandit Colony told News24 that the police are not allowing them to come out of the colony.

One of the agitated Kashmiri Pandit said, “J&KPolice DIG assured us to end the protest on Srinagar-Budgam road and LG will himself come to see us, but LG didn’t come here and they have locked us inside the colony like animals.” The agitated Kashmiri pandits were seen shouting at the police officers and cops deployed outside the Sheikhpora migrant pandit colony. Same reports are coming from the Pandit Colony Veesu Qazugund, Mattan Anantnag and other places.

Police sources told News24 the step is temporary and has been taken in view of the current situation to ensure the security of the Kashmiri Pandit Community.

Meanwhile government has constituted a Special investigation team to probe “all aspects” attack leading to the killing of Kashmiri Pandit employee inside tehsil office Chadoora. The government also contacted the concerned Station House Officer.

LG Manoj Sinha also announced that J&K administration will provide a government job to Rahul Bhat’s wife in and financial assistance to the family. “The government will bear the educational expenses of the daughter,” LG said.

first published:May 13, 2022, 11:01 p.m.

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