Several government employees leave Kashmir after killings

Updated on Jun 03, 2022 04:33 AM IST

The killing of Vijay Kumar, a bank employee, by terrorists on Thursday, the 12th of a civilian since March, triggered another round of exits of migrant Hindu and Kashmiri Pandit workers and their families from the Valley.

Police personnel stop members of Jammu Based Reserved Category Employees Association Kashmir during a protest demanding justice for Rajni Bala, who was shot dead by terrorists on May 31, in Jammu on Thursday. (ANI)
Police personnel stop members of Jammu Based Reserved Category Employees Association Kashmir during a protest demanding justice for Rajni Bala, who was shot dead by terrorists on May 31, in Jammu on Thursday. (ANI)
By, Srinagar

The killing of Vijay Kumar, a bank employee, by terrorists on Thursday, the 12th of a civilian since March, triggered another round of exits of migrant Hindu and Kashmiri Pandit workers and their families from the Valley. The exodus has revived memories of the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley between 1989 and 1995.

“We are around more than 350 families in the transit camp of Baramulla and half have already left. We fear for our lives and feel very insecure here after the spate of targetted killings in the Valley,” said a Kashmiri Pandit who asked not to be named. “We want relocation or will leave this place. For us, it is again an exodus.”

Rajni Bala, a school teacher, was killed in Kulgam on May 31 and Rahul Bhat, a worker in Tehsil office in Budgam, was killed on May 12. Eight of the killings have happened since May.

Attacks on civilians, policemen this year
Attacks on civilians, policemen this year

Last Friday, a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits met Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, and sought transfer to district headquarters, which are considered safer.

On Monday, the state administration issued directions to transfer Kashmir Pandit employees given appointment under the Prime Minister’s relief package to district headquarters. That move came after a protest was sparked by Bhat’s killing.

On Thursday, as families started leaving the Valley after Kumar’s killing in Kulgam, the Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS) demanded security for families leaving Kashmir till Banihal tunnel. “Kashmiri Pandit Package employees in Mattan have requested DC Anantnag to provide them security till Banihal tunnel as they will be mass migration tomorrow to Jammu. DC and SSP Anantnag are present in Mattan Transit camp Anantnag,” tweeted the Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti.

KPSS president Sanjay Tickoo confirmed that many Kashmiri Pandits left the Valley on Thursday. “As per my information around 65 employees with their families have left.”

Ranjan Zutshi, a migrant employee who lives at a transit camp in Mattan, said more than 100 people have left for Jammu.

“Nobody feels safe here. Tomorrow more people will be leaving Kashmir. We will only return when safe accommodation can be created for us,” Zutshi said. He added that since the killing of Rahul Bhat, around 2,500 employees have already left Kashmir.

On Thursday, there was a brief altercation between employees and the police at the gates of the transit camp at Mattan in Anantnag. Employees also held a brief protest outside the gate of the camp. However, senior officials arrived at the spot and defused the situation.

Meanwhile, as viral videos of crowds at Srinagar airport started doing the rounds, director of the airport Kuldeep Singh Rishi took to Twitter to clarify that the crowd was nothing out of the ordinary.

“We handle between 16 thousand to 18 thousand passengers everyday. Today also the number of passengers is average There is no heavy rush,” he said.

Political leaders expressed sadness at the exodus.

“Kashmiri Pandits are not feeling safe. It will be very unfortunate if they leave again. Kashmir is their home and we all have a responsibility to keep them safe. We want a sense of security and not hollow words. The situation is worse than what it was in early 90’s and this is how the BJP and their administration has mishandled Kashmir,” said National Conference spokesman Tanvir Sadiq.

Peoples Democratic Party spokesman Suhail Bukhari said: “The situation has been brought to this level by BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.”

BJP spokesperson Altaf Thakur said some elements are not happy with the prevailing peace in Kashmir and are trying to spread fear by projecting the recent targeted killings in a wrong way.

“These elements are spreading false and fake news on social media and other platforms about minority community members fleeing Kashmir,” he added.

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