Jammu & Kashmir | National

J&K government posts Kashmiri Pandit teachers to ‘safer zones’ within Valley

Jammu-based government employees posted in Kashmir, during a protest rally in Jammu on June 4, 2022 demanding their transfer to their home districts.

Jammu-based government employees posted in Kashmir, during a protest rally in Jammu on June 4, 2022 demanding their transfer to their home districts. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Jammu & Kashmir administration has started posting Kashmiri Pandit teachers in government schools to “safer zones” in a bid to discourage their desire to leave the Kashmir valley following a string of targeted attacks by militants on members of the minority community that left nine people dead in the past one month.

Srinagar’s Chief Education Officer has posted 177 Pandit employees, recruited under the Prime Minister’s special employment package, to more secure zones in the city. Most of them have been posted in areas around the Army Cantonment such as Badamibagh, Batwara and Athwajan, or high security areas such as Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh and Barzulla. Non-teaching Pandit staff have also been shifted to safer locations.

The government action, however, came in for criticism after the list of 177 teachers went viral on social media. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) objected to the transfer list of Kashmiri Pandit employees surfacing in the public domain. The party demanded action against the concerned officials.

“Making the transfer list public on social media platforms is a big security breach as terrorists now have a clear idea who is posted where,” BJP spokesperson Altaf Thakur said.

The J&K Government has also directed all the departments to shift their Pandit employees, working in interiors of the valley’s 10 districts, to the more secure district headquarters.

The Government Order has made it clear that the Lieutenant-Governor’s administration is not heeding the demand to relocate employees outside the Kashmir valley. 

Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Pandurang K. Pole, on Saturday convened a meeting of Deputy Commissioners and divisional heads of departments of all the civil departments to review the status of transfer of employees. The government has also asked Hindu employees to mark their preferred locations within the valley for posting, and Mr. Pole has been apprised of the status of such applications, officials said.

Mr. Pole has directed that Pandit employees who consent to a transfer should be posted at the District Headquarters, or in municipal towns, or within a radius of 3 km of a municipal town.

“Pandit employee couples will be transferred to the same locality for safety,” officials said.

Scores of the Pandit employees have decided not to join work following the killing of Rahul Bhat, a Pandit employee, in Budgam’s Chadoora on May 12. Hundreds of Pandit employees have left the valley since May 31 after the killing of a Hindu teacher outside a school and a Hindu bank manager inside his office in south Kashmir. Over 4,000 Pandits have been recruited since 2008 under the PM’s special employment package.

Scores of Dogra Hindu employees from Jammu, who were recruited under the 8% Schedule Caste quota in the valley, also held a protest march in Jammu.

“We are being killed like sitting ducks. We demand that a transfer policy is drafted for the ST employees. We are ready to serve for four to five years in the [Kashmir] valley but after that we should be transferred to the Jammu region. Till the situation improves, the government should transfer us to home districts in Jammu,” a female protester said in Jammu.

Three Dogra Hindus have been killed by militants, including two schoolteachers posted in the valley from Jammu, in the past one year in Kashmir. Nineteen people have become victims of militants’ targeted killings in Kashmir this year, which include 13 local Muslims and policemen, and five non-Muslims.  

Security has been beefed up in the entire valley, especially in south Kashmir’s Kulgam and Shopian. Union Home Minister Amit Shah chaired a meeting of top officials and Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha in New Delhi on Friday on the recent incidents.    

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2022 8:44:50 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/jk-government-posts-kashmiri-pandit-teachers-to-safer-zones-within-kashmir-valley/article65495004.ece