Kashmiri Pandit Rahul Bhat’s killing triggers protests in Kashmir

The ‘All PM Package Employees Forum’ sends a mass resignation letter to J&K LG, with copies to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

On Thursday (May 12), unidentified gunmen fired at a Kashmiri Pandit, Rahul Bhat, at the tehsil office in Chadoora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district. An employee with J&K’s Revenue department, Bhat was moved to a Srinagar hospital but could not survive after suffering serious bullet injuries.

The victim was a Sangrampora Beerwah native, who was now residing in Pandit Colony in Sheikhpora village of the district.

Rahul Bhat, whose corpse was accompanied by his wife and children, was cremated amid a protest by Kashmiri Pandit community members. As cries of ‘Long Live Rahul Bhat’ filled the air at the Buntalab cremation yard, his brother Sunny lighted the fire.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits gathered in Jammu to pay their respects to Bhat. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha also met with Rahul Bhat’s relatives and promised them justice.

However, Bhat’s killing in broad daylight within the premises of a government department angered people, especially the community of Kashmiri Pandits in the union territory.

On Friday, members of the Kashmiri Pandit community protested at several locations throughout the Kashmir valley. The protestors, who had returned to the Valley under the PM’s Employment Package, demanded security, justice, and compensation for Bhat’s family.

Pandit protestors dispersed as they attempt to impede traffic

Pandit protestors faced baton charge for attempting to obstruct the Srinagar airport route on Friday morning.

According to reports, a large number of Kashmiri Pandits took to the roads in Sheikhpora Budgam and attempted to get to the airport road. The protesters demanded LG Manoj Sinha to visit them at Shiekhpora.

However, the police foiled their attempt and prevented the demonstrators from proceeding. J&K Police stated that its personnel were forced to ‘hurl’ a few teargas canisters for the ‘security’ of the protesting Kashmiri Pandits.

“Given the topography of the area and huge rush at the airport road, there were inputs that (militants) may take advantage of the same and may attack the protesters in order to create communal clash/tension,” the police statement said.

According to eyewitnesses, police used tear smoke shells and apprehended a number of demonstrators to disperse Pandits who persisted to obstruct traffic after putting forth numerous demands.

SIT formed to investigate the killing, local SHO attached

Meanwhile, the government formed a special inquiry team on Friday to look into ‘all aspects’ of the incident that resulted in the death of Rahul Bhat.

The government also attached the Station House Officer (SHO) in whose jurisdiction the militant attack was carried out.

LG Manoj Sinha announced that the J&K Government would offer Rahul Bhat’s wife a government job in Jammu as well as financial help. The government will also cover her daughter’s schooling expenses, as per the LG.

Meanwhile, a local official “denied” “social media rumours of migrant staff resigning,” adding “no such letter of resignation(s) has been received by the administration.”

PM Package Employees send mass resignation letter to LG

The ‘All PM Package Employees Forum’ has sent a mass resignation letter to J&K’s LG Manoj Sinha, with copies to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

As per a local news agency, the letter said that the community feels dejected by the administration’s policies and subsequent failure to provide a sense of security to all Kashmiri Pandit minorities serving in the Valley for the last 12 years.

“Due to desperation by promised custodians, who promised us a dignified and honourable return, and due to the threat of life, which is a fundamental right of each and every human being,” the letter said the community of PM Package Employees and non-PM Package Employees have been left with no choice but to tender a collective resignation.

Meanwhile, the reports of resignations by the employees were later denied by the administration as it said that no such letter of resignation(s) have been received by the authorities.

Not just Pandits, majority community also under attack

This year, till the second week of May, 12 civilian people were slain in Kashmir valley, with nine of them belonging to the majority community.

There were nine locals, two non-locals, and a Kashmiri Pandit among the 12 slain people.

According to the statistics concerning the civilian killings, three Sarpanches, a Panch, and the brother of an SPO were killed. Also, a grenade attack killed two civilians, one of them a woman, while two more died during a gun battle between militants and security forces.

In addition, gunmen shot and wounded 10 non-locals, three of whom were Muslims.

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