By Arun Joshi
In one of the rarest of rare incidents in Kashmir’s more than three-decade old armed militancy , terrorists shot dead two minority community teachers inside a school in Idgah area of Srinagar on Thursday. The killing of teachers have come in less than 48 hours after the gunning down of a prominent chemist and Kashmiri Pandit M L Bindroo and a resident of Bihar on Tuesday , thus exposing a pattern of rapid speed of the select killing of the minority community men and women in Kashmir . It is a chilling reminder of such killings in 1989-1990.
The whole game makes it clear that Pakistan has intensified its terror campaign this time singling out the minority community members – Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs , as also non-locals who visit Kashmir for economic activity.
The teachers , including Principal Supinder Kaur , of Sangam , Idgah , school in capital city of Srinagar, were shot dead on Thursday morning . Supinder was a Sikh , while another teacher was a Kashmiri Pandit Deepak Chand.
In an hour’s time on Tuesday evening from 7 to 8 p.m. , militants had shot dead M L Bindroo, a renowned chemist and a prominent Kashmiri Pandit in Srinagar. Virendra Pawan from Bhagalpur, Bihar, was shot dead in Lal Bazar area of Srinagar .
The killing of teachers inside school reveals new areas where the terrorists have started visiting all the vulnerable places and killing their targets . In the history of more than three-decade -old militancy in Kashmir, it has been rare when the school teachers have been shot dead within the premises of the educational institution like this . . It is yet another low in militancy in Kashmir.
All these killings reveal that the militants have started targeting Sikhs and Kashmiri Pandits and non-locals to deliver a chilling message that they were not safe in the Valley. The larger design seems to make them flee the Valley , the return of the 1989-1990 phenomenon when the select killings of the minorities had made them to migrate and seek safety and shelter elsewhere in the country.
Now, the designs, it seems , is to make all those who have stayed on in the Valley to live in. fear or migrate.
Director General of Police Dilbag Singh who reached the school within minutes after the shootout that scared the staff and children analysed it as a “ conspiracy from Pakistan who want to disturb the communal harmony in Kashmir and stall the process of normalization and return of peace in the Valley.”
The police chief was categorical that this was also a “ conspiracy to defame the Kashmiri Muslims in the eyes of the world,”, thus to give an impression that the issue of the majority versus minority has resurfaced . At the same time, it cannot be overlooked that there is a growing radicalism in Kashmir thriving on the narrative of the us versus they , which has gained currency in the recent years.
Pakistan has been instrumental in instigating this narrative since the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35 A that granted special status and privileges to Jammu and Kashmir its natives on August 5, 2019. It had been charging the government of India in indulging in what it called “ its designs to change the demographics in J&K.”
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in his speech at the UNGA in September had accused India of unleashing oppression in Kashmir and stated that “ this repression is accompanied by illegal efforts to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory , and transform it from a Muslim majority into a Muslim minority.” This discourse amplified by the social media campaign launched by Pakistan and its overground workers in Kashmir have created an atmosphere of distrust and hatred , and these killings are byproduct of this phenomenon .
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 it.