Massive protests are being held by Kashmiri Pandits in various parts of Jammu and Kashmir since Thursday night after the killing of a government employee belonging to the minority community, the Greater Kashmir reported.
On Thursday, suspected militants barged into a government office in Kashmir’s Budgam district and shot dead Rahul Bhat. The police said that he worked as a revenue department official at the tehsil office in Chadoora.
The protestors mainly included government officers and their families who are camped at the migrant colony at Vesu-Qazigund in the Anantnag district. They demanded that the administration of the Union Territory should ensure that Kashmiri Pandits are safe in the Valley.
“We live under constant fear and are not safe here,” said RK Bhat, a protestor, reported the Greater Kashmir. “We are going for an indefinite pen-down strike, unless and until our lives are safeguarded and we feel a sense of security.”
On Friday, the police fired tear gas and baton-charged protestors, who had participated in a march from a migrant colony in Budgam’s Sheikhpora to the Srinagar International Airport, the Kashmir News Observer reported.
“We had informed the administration and police that the lieutenant governor should visit the spot and give us assurance about our protection and ensure culprits involved in the killing of Rahul Bhat won’t be spared,” an unidentified protestor told the Kashmir News Observer. “But the LG didn’t arrive at the spot and we were left with no option other than to march towards Srinagar airport.”
In the past eight months, suspected militants have attacked several members of religious minorities and migrant workers in Kashmir.
In October, alleged militants had killed seven civilians in five days. Of these, four belonged to Hindu or Sikh communities in the Valley. Three others were Kashmiri Muslims.
On Thursday, protestors accused the government of failing to protect their lives. Videos showed protestors also shouting slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.
“Why are we being targeted?” Sanja Kaul, another protestor asked, reported the Greater Kashmir. “We have come here for earning a livelihood.”
The protestors blocked traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway. Demonstrations were also held at the Khanabal-Pahalgam road. Baramulla, Handwara and other areas in north Kashmir also witnessed similar protests.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s Jammu and Kashmir President Ravinder Raina said that “all those involved in this heinous crime will be neutralised very soon”, The Indian Express reported.
Bhat started working at the tehsildar’s office under the prime minister’s employment scheme in 2011, reported the Hindustan Times. He had been living with his wife and a daughter in Budgam’s Sheikupora area.
His father, Bitta Jee Bhat, a retired police officer, demanded a high-level inquiry into the killing.
“I want a thorough investigation into how terrorists entered a government office and shot my son dead,” he added. “The government talks about rehabilitating Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, but its own Pandit employees are not safe inside government offices.”
Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said the accused persons had been identified, PTI reported.
“While one of them is involved in previous killings in Srinagar city as well, the second one is a new recruit,” Singh said.