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A  Kashmiri Pandit’s killing in Kashmir raises questions about KPs safety in valley

21/05/2022 at 12:29 PM

Arun Joshi

 Ever since the killing of Rahul Bhat, a Kashmiri  Pandit employee in the Valley last week , several questions have been raised, how secure is the Valley for the minority community members working there under the Prime Minister’s Employment and Rehabilitation Package, one of the measures that the government of India had undertaken to make the migrant community to regain its space in the land of its ancestors,  questions have been raised about the environment in the Valley.  The most pertinent question is , whether the community is safe after the killing of one of their members in his office where terrorists could not dare to visit, but they visited and shot him dead on May 12 afternoon.

The community, deeply scared after the cold blooded murder, is asking for its relocation to the safe zones outside the Valley. Their preferred choice is Hindu dominated Jammu region that has hosted KPs for more than three decades since they migrated from the Valley in 1990 under the threat of militants’  guns and a well-structured noisy eco-system against India and those who represented the idea of  India in 1990 . The 1990 is reckoned as the zero calendar year of the militancy in Kashmir, during which Kashmiri Pandits migrated and are still finding it difficult to get restored to their homes in Kashmir.

The government is perplexed . It has no easy answers to the demands of the Kashmiri  Pandits, who because of their migration and the perpetual narrative of victimhood, is one of the most influential communities in the nation, and it has peddled the narratives against jihad in Kashmir to showcase to the world that how minorities were hounded out by militants. They place , as they had migrated and suffered the evil consequences of Pakistan-sponsored militancy, in the centre of the whirlpool . Now when the violence visited the community member, they have reinforced their narrative and want to leave the Valley yet again.

The killing  of Rahul Bhat  also got spotlighted  all over because he was a Kashmiri pandit .It was followed by an outrage among the community members , who , during the course of protest, questioned the narrative that Kashmir is safe  and normal . “ It is not,” ,  Kashmiri Pandits protestors said in unison . This also has given a chance to the Kashmir-centric parties to cite the killing of Kashmiri Pandit  as a piece of evidence that the claim of the normalcy in Kashmir is manufactured one

 Kashmiri Pandits  are the  cheer leaders of high-intensity anti-terrorism operations in Kashmir , in which they made hardly any distinction between the armed militants and many majority community.  This is the reason that they were insisting to quit the Valley.

The community had celebrated the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019 , for two reasons , they thought that the Indianness has won over the Kashmiri secessionism and also because they believed that sections in the majority community elements who supported the jihadi cult in Kashmir have been cut to size.  In short, the community was seen as the narrator of the Central government’s policies in Jammu and Kashmir and contributor to the idea of complete normalcy in the Valley, free of all fears and apprehensions.

But when Kashmiri Pandits hit the streets protesting against the government, raising anti-government slogans and when they were teargassed and lathi-charged, the whole complexion of the normalcy claims changed. It was beyond the imagination of many in the government that Kashmiri  Pandits would ever protest in this manner, and it was a surprise and shock for the agitating community when the protestors were cane charged and teargassed. The whole story had turned sour for them. They found that the community was not only the target of the terrorists who wanted to kill their members and drive them out of the Valley, but they were having no sympathy from the government, and all of a sudden the whole thing started looking absurd to them.

The government is struggling to find answers to their problems, but one thing that it cannot do is to facilitate their relocation to places outside the Valley. That would kill its own narration of normalcy and oft-repeated pledges that Kashmiri Pandits would have to be restored to their homes in the Valley.

Kashmiri  Pandits, feeling unsafe in the  Valley,  had approached among others the leaders of the PAGD- People’s Alliance for Gupkar declaration – which the Indian establishment had decried as spokespersons of Pakistan and secessionism. The meeting of Kashmiri Pandits with PAGD leaders has however diluted this perception.  KPs can tilt the narrative to any side.

But the murder of Rahul Bhat in his office in Chadoora in central Kashmir district of Budgam, not very far from the capital city of Srinagar, has triggered a  debate of then and now with regard to those for the normalcy regained and those denouncing it as fake. The reality lies somewhere in between.  But that is no solace to the  Kashmiri Pandit community whether living in the Valley or outside of it.

About the Author:

Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with those of prameyanews.com.

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