- Protests are being held in J&K since the Kashmiri Pandit govt employee was shot dead by terrorists
- Protesting Kashmiri Pandits demanded safety in the wake of the targeted killing
- At several places, candlelight marches were also held
Kashmiri Pandit Killing: The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday resorted to baton charge and firing of tear gas shells to disperse Kashmiri Pandit community members marching towards Srinagar airport to protest the killing of Rahut Bhat by terrorists in Budgam a day back. The protesters first assembled at the Sheikhpora area of Budgam district, in central Kashmir, and then tried to proceed towards the airport but were stopped by a posse of police personnel. The protesters were requested to disperse but they refused to budge and insisted on marching ahead, following which the police used batons and fired some tear smoke shells. There are no reports of any casualty.
The community has been protesting since Thursday against the "failure" of the government to protect their lives. Bhat (35), a Kashmiri Pandit employee, was shot dead by terrorists at a crowded government office in the Chadoora area of Budgam on Thursday. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, meanwhile, claimed that she has been placed under house arrest to stop her from visiting Budgam to express solidarity with the protesting Kashmiri Pandits. In a tweet, Mufti said she was put under house arrest as the BJP did not want Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits to empathise with each other's pain. "Wanted to visit Budgam to express my solidarity with Kashmiri Pandits protesting against GOIs failure to protect them. Have been put under house arrest as the fact that Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits empathise with each other’s pain doesn’t fit into their vicious communal narrative," the PDP chief said.
Police officials, however, refused to comment over Mufti’s claim. National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abddullah said it was “shameful that legitimate and justified protests” are met with a “heavy-handed response”. “This is not new for the people of Kashmir because when all the administration has is a hammer every problem resembles a nail. If the LG’s Govt can’t protect KPs they have a right to protest,” he wrote on Twitter. “Tourism is not normalcy, it’s a barometer of economic activity. Normalcy is the absence of fear, the absence of terror, the inability of militants to strike at will, the presence of democratic rule & by any yardstick you choose to use, Kashmir is far from normal today,” Abdullah said.
The NC leader, while condemning the killing of a policeman in Pulwama on Friday, said targeted killings continue “unabated” in the valley. “Rahul in his office yesterday, Riyaz Ahmad Thoker, a SPO with J&K police, in his own home today. Targeted killings continue unabated. I can’t condemn this killing strongly enough. May Allah grant Riyaz place in Jannat,” he said.
Protests are being held in several parts of Jammu and Kashmir since the Kashmiri Pandit government employee was shot dead by terrorists inside his office at Chadoora in Budgam district on Thursday.
Rahul Bhat, who had got the job of a clerk under the special employment package for migrants, was gunned down by terrorists inside the Tehsil office in Chadoora town. The protesting Kashmiri Pandits demanded safety in the wake of the targeted killing. "We ask the govt to re-locate us to places where we feel rehabilitated," said Sandeep Bhat, a member of the association.
At several places, candlelight marches were also held.
Wails and shrieks filled the house as mourners including neighbours and relatives rushed to comfort the family after hearing about the killing of Bhat, who was in his early 30s. Bhat is survived by his parents, wife and a minor daughter. His wife and daughter were putting up with him at Sheikhpora migrant colony in Budgam district. Rakesh Koul, the BJP municipal councilor in south Kashmir’s Mattan, said the selective killings by terrorists is a cause for concern for the whole community, especially those who are serving in the valley. “We have risked our lives and returned to Kashmir with a hope to rebuild a connection with our roots,” he said, as he tried to console the bereaved family members. Bhat’s neighbours said he was a thorough gentleman and the news of his killing came as a shock for them.
Politicians cutting across party lines condemned the killing and demanded stern action against the perpetrators of violence. “The coward Pakistani terrorists have once again bled the Kashmir by the cold-blooded murder of Bhat…those behind the killings will not be spared and will be eliminated by our security forces,” J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina said.
In another major attack in less than 24 hours, a policeman was shot dead by terrorists at his residence in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir today. Constable Reyaz Ahmad Thokar was shot at in Gudoora in the district this morning. The injured cop was rushed to the Army's 92 base hospital in the city but succumbed to injuries.