‘Civilian killings in Valley a failure of security agencies,’ say Delhi-based Kashmiri Pandits

Kashmiri Pandits protesting against the killing of civilians in the Valley, at Jantar Mantar on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: SANDEEP SAXENA

Perturbed by the recent killing of civilians in the Valley, Kashmiri Pandits residing in the national capital have demanded that the Central government ensure that members of the community are safe in Kashmir and called the incidents a “failure” of security agencies.

Members of various city-based Kashmiri Pandit groups, including Panun Kashmir, All India Kashmiri Samaj, Kashmiri Samiti Delhi, Roots in Kashmir Jammu Kashmir Vichar Manch and Youth 4 Panun Kashmir, gathered at Jantar Mantar on Saturday evening and voiced their anger against the killings.

Dileep Mattoo, president of Jammu Kashmir Vichar Manch, said his friends and relatives in Kashmir are scared to even step out of their houses unless it’s very important. “This has been done to derail the peace process initiated by the Central government. They are trying to divide people again and scare the minority… just like in the ’90s,” he said.

Ayushi Koul, a city-based student, said the recent killings have resulted in “rumours of another migration of minority groups” in Kashmir due to the “fear psychosis that has kicked in”.

‘Hope lost’

“There was a certain hope that we would be able to go back to the Valley and work there. But now it would take another decade for my family to believe that it is possible to return as they have experienced the trauma very closely,” Ms. Koul, whose family left Kashmir in the late 1990s, said.

Badri Raina, a former Delhi University professor, said these killings are not hate crimes but political acts designed to thwart the consequences that followed the abrogation of provisions of Article 370. “Local Kashmiri Pandit associations had alerted the authorities that such things may happen. The security failure seems obvious. It needs to be recorded that the majority of civilians killed this year in the Valley were Muslims,” he said, adding that the recent killings must not be used to put mainstream Kashmiri Muslims in the dock.

Utpal Kaul, Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora’s international coordinator, said when the violence erupted in the 1990s, the government “wasn’t strong”, which is why the exodus took place, but now what has happened is a reaction to the “pro-India narrative”. “What we demand from the government is that it should ensure that the Kashmiri Pandits are safe in the Valley and they are put in a security zone where they feel confident,” he said.

M.K. Raina, a Delhi-based theatre personality who had migrated from Kashmir, said while he condemned the killings of minority members, “Muslims were also killed, nobody is talking about that”.

‘Must stand united’

“I think politicians only use us for propaganda purposes, and nothing else. A community must stand united; for 31 years we have been unable to do that and it has to be apolitical. The Muslims that were killed in Kashmir were also our people, the other dimension has to be shown,” he said, adding that the biggest danger is the incidents leading to communal violence.

Arun Koul, a protester associated with Kashmiri Samiti Delhi, said that people in Kashmir were now “facing the same situation that we faced in the 1990s”.

“Kashmiri Pandits have suffered since 1947; our houses were attacked with stones whenever Pakistan would lose a cricket match, not necessarily against India only. No government has come forward to help us as a community. There are other Ministers, apart from Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi, who can look into this issue. The PM cannot look at every issue; the BJP has promised a lot but apart from the ₹500-crore package for Kashmiri Pandits, nothing much has been done,” said Mr. Koul.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 12:41:06 AM |

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