As Kashmiri Pandits flee from the valley Muslims hit streets to stop them

In several parts of the Kashmir valley Muslims express their solidarity with the pandits and protest on roads. They do not want KPs to leave. eNewsroom talks to locals, activists, politicians, and the pandits on the issue. All claim that the killings are a failure on the part of the JKUT administration

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Srinagar: Fear-stricken Kashmiri Pandits have started leaving Kashmir Valley to the safer places following the killing of Rahul Bhatt a clerk in Budgam district, Rajni Bala a teacher and Vijay Kumar a bank manager in Kulgam district of south Kashmir. But Kashmiri Muslims have been doing everything to stop pandit brethren from leaving the valley.

Protests erupted across the valley against the killings. Kashmiri pandits across the valley held demonstrations demanding protection. It comprised the government employees who have been engaged under the rehabilitation policy in different departments in the last few years.

In their protests, the Muslim community also joined. Kashmiri Muslims not only demanded protection of the pandits but also opposed the shifting.

“During 1990 when there was a peak of militancy, many Kashmiri Pandit families were living in our neighbourhood. We didn’t let them go. They left the valley very late, and we still have a family living here, we provide every support to this family. Kashmiri Muslims arranged everything for their daughter’s marriage. Unfortunately, we have been caught again in circumstances like the ’90s. Taking innocent lives won’t bear anything. I wish we could live together like before the 90s. My appeal to all Kashmiri Muslims is not to let our pandit brothers go. I am ready to provide every support to the outgoing pandits. We should all pray for peace and prosperity in Kashmir”, said Mushtaq Ahmad Ganie, resident of Lolab Kupwara to eNewsroom.

A video is also circulating on social media where an Imam, during the Friday prayers in Jamia Masjid, Anantnag has condemned the killings of members of the minority community. He has appealed to the Muslims to denounce the targeted attacks and offer protection to the minority community in the valley.

At press enclave Srinagar, a protest was held to condemn the killings. The protestors demanded that the government must give proper protection to the pandits. Javed Beigh, a social activist, who was the organizer of it, said that they did everything to stop the Kashmiri Pandits to stay back and offered every possible support to the pandit community.

kashmiri pandits exodus Valley Muslims Jammu and Kashmir
Collage of different protests by Muslims to express solidarity with their Pandit brothers in the valley

“We tried our best to stop our brothers from leaving the valley. We offered them every support, our houses too. But they were frightened. They want to leave everything behind and save their lives. Government must take measures to protect them”, Javed told eNewsroom.

“We are helpless. Even Kashmir Muslims are not safe. Yesterday it was Rahul Bhatt, Rajini Bala, tomorrow it could be me and you. So it is the responsibility of authorities to protect its citizens”, he added.

Similarly, Kashmiri Muslims in Kupwara also took out a protest rally against the killings. The protestors were demanding security for the Kashmiri Pandits and their postings in the safer zones.

Former Minister and chairman of the People’s Democratic Front, Hakeem Mohamad Yaseen has strongly condemned the killing and urged the government to identify the killers.

“Communal harmony and brotherhood have been the hallmark of the centuries-old tradition of Jammu and Kashmir. We have to defeat nefarious designs to create a wedge between the communities”, said Hakeem Yaseen.

“Eyeing on the forthcoming elections, many political parties were day in and day out issuing inflammatory statements to create hatred among different sections of the society. All these have further worsened the situation here. The election battle should be fought on principals, not at the cost of the murder of unity and harmonious human value”, Hakeem Yaseen alleged.

The central government has turned down their demand for relocation; however, the JKUT governor administration has decided to transfer the pandit employees to already identified eight safer zones near the district headquarters in the valley.

Ashu Dhar, a Kashmiri Pandit teacher posted in a government school, Kupwara district said that the local Muslims have provided every support to the pandit community in these testing times.

“For the last eight years in doing my job in Kupwara. I got every support from the locals. I have many Muslim friends who invite me to their homes. I wanted to enjoy my duty and life, but the fear has mentally tortured me. Me and my family is mentally disturbed”, the teacher rued.

“Most of our colleagues have left the valley, only a few are left behind. They will leave within a few days. The killings have frightened us. We are not able to move out to meet our friends. In this chaos how can we stay back when most of our people have left?” Ashu questioned.

“I thank my Muslim friends who offered every support, called me and asked about my well being, but they are also confused, they also want to know who is behind the killings, who are disturbing the peace and brotherhood? They are also helpless,” added Ashu.

kashmiri pandits exodus Valley Muslims Jammu and Kashmir
Another protest by Kashmiri Muslims expressing solidarity or pandits in Budgam

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCC&I), a prominent body of local businessmen, has termed the killing of Kashmiri Pandits “unacceptable and inhuman”.

“It goes against the basic spirit and concept of Kashmiriyat. The office-bearers of Kashmir’s largest trade body are deeply shocked and distressed at the killing spree over the past few weeks. This has dented the image of Kashmir again and is against its cultural ethos,” a KCCI spokesperson said.

Many KP and their families have already left the valley in the last few days from south Kashmir, Mattan and Vessu, Srinagar, Baramulla and Kupwara.

According to an unofficial estimate, over 300 Kashmiri Pandits had reached Jammu in the past two days. However, neither the UT administration nor the central government has confirmed nor denied the reports of mass migration from the valley.

Meanwhile, Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), in an open letter to the J&K Chief Justice, sought his intervention to allow frightened pandits to leave the valley.

President KPSS, Sanjay K Tickoo in his letter to the Chief Justice mentioned, “Every member of the religious minority is under direct threat from the terrorists operating in Kashmir Valley. The Union Territory and the central administration have failed to protect their lives. The Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus want to leave Kashmir but the government is not allowing them to leave. Some blue-eyed persons who have access to the power corridors managed the posting of their kith and kin outside the valley.”

“All the officers and officials whose involvement or lapse is proved in the preliminary allegations should be suspended without any further delay. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) should be constituted to submit its report within a stipulated time and it should be monitored by the High Court,” he added.

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