The Kashmiri Pandit community in Ahmedabad came out on streets today, to protest the targeted killings in Kashmir Valley, including the recent hit on Rahul Bhat, on May 12.
Community members gathered at the main gate of Vastrapur Lake at 7:00 pm this evening, and proceeded to commence a peaceful candlelight march around the lake. “We condemn the brutal killings of innocent Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir Valley,” read several banners carried by the marching participants. Another paid homage to Rahul Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit community member killed in Jammu and Kashmir union territory this week. Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit government employee at the Chadoora Tehsil Office in Budgam area, was shot dead by terrorists on Thursday. The terror outfit Kashmir Tigers has taken responsibility for the same. Bhat had been employed under the PM Package Employees Forum, a scheme via which the Government of India is attempting to rehabilitate the Kashmiri Pandit community.
Following Bhat’s death, over 350 Kashmiri Pandits employed under the PM Package Employees Forum have offered to tender their mass resignation to J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, since they “have been left with no option”. “Due to dejection by the policies of the Administration and subsequent Failure of providing the sense of Security to all Kashmiri Pandit Minorities serving in the valley for the last 12 years and due to desperation by promised custodians (who promised us to provide dignified and honorable return and due to threat of life which is fundamental right of each and every human being,” read the initial draft of the letter, listing the reasons for the en masse resignation. In a fresh letter addressed to the LG, the employees asked, “We the PM Package Employees and Non-PM Package Employees request your good self to please evacuate us safely from Kashmir province and save us.” It added, “Kashmiri Pandit is ready to serve anywhere in world but not in Kashmir due to Jihadist Terrorism.” Copies of the same have also been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi, “for information & necessary action”.
Kashmiri Pandit members in Ahmedabad, whilst raising their voices against terrorism in Kashmir Valley, have also condmened the LG Sinha administration in the union territory. “We are not animals,” said Renu Dhar, an executive member of the city’s Koshur Samchar group. “Our people have been locked up like cattle for protesting against terrorism and voicing our pain,” she added. As per reports, the police in Budgam resorted to lathi charge on the crowd of Kashmiri Pandit protesters sloganeering against the recent murders of community members, and the LG government. A video also shows the police firing tear gas shells to prevent the protesters from moving towards Airport Road. According to most first person accounts narrated to The Sparrow, this is the first time the Kashmiri Pandit community has come out in protest against the atrocities it has faced over the years, and hence, the first time it has been lathicharged. Several videos from across Kashmir Valley, of Kashmiri Pandits being locked up in their colonies, have surfaced on social media.
“No government rehabilitated us. We rehabilitated ourselves. But we were assured that we could go back home and get back our jobs. Rahul Bhat, despite being a young government employee, was gunned down inside a government office… there is no hope for us,” said another Koshur Samchar member. “It is time that the PM and Amit Shah come through on their promises and take action,” she added.