Muslims come to the aid of panic struck Choutigam’s Kashmiri Pandit families after militant attack

Three families forced to rethink decision to stay on in Kashmir

April 05, 2022 06:29 pm | Updated April 06, 2022 10:42 am IST - SRINAGAR

Picture used for representational purposes. File

Picture used for representational purposes. File | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

Panic has gripped three Kashmiri Pandit families in Shopian a day after militants shot at and injured a Pandit shopkeeper Bal Krishan near his shop.

The Pandit families, who had stayed on in the Valley and did not migrate in the 1990s, have maintained silence and refused to talk to the media for fear of retribution after the attack. “We are hopeful that locals will safeguard us, like in the past 30 years,” a minority member said, on the condition of anonymity.

A little-known outfit, the Kashmir Freedom Fighters (KFF), has claimed responsibility for the attack at Choutigam village of Shopian. “The cadre of the KFF shot and critically injured the Kashmiri Pandit. He was hand in glove with the BJP and was also involved in many immoral activities,” a KFF spokesman claimed.

The police have not, however, confirmed the veracity of the outfit’s claim. 

Officials said Mr Bal Krishan, who is in hospital, is stable. However, the incident has pushed the three remaining Pandit families to maintain a low profile in their own villages, in the face of back-to-back targeted attacks on civilians. 

Anil Bhat, the victim’s brother, rued the decision to stay back in Kashmir in 1990. “It was a mistake to stay back in Kashmir. We have stayed through the worst times here. Then yesterday, two people disembarked from a two-wheeler. One pulled off a pistol and fired at my brother in front of me. This is all about land and nothing else,” Mr. Bhat said.

Five people, including four non-local labourers and one Kashmiri Pandit, have been injured in militant attacks in Kashmir since Monday. In most cases, bullets were fired at the limbs and not the upper body, officials said.

On the growing number of militant attacks, Peoples Conference chief Sajad Lone said the whole game plan seems to be to scare and to chase out people. “Whatever one’s ideology maybe, the least we can do is to understand the ideology of the other side and the strategy of the other side,” he said.

Mr. Lone said the violence in Kashmir is not only senseless and barbaric but also aimed at economically crippling the Kashmiri economy. “After a long time business seems to have resumed in hotels and allied sectors. And the butchers seem to be hell bent on destroying all that,” he added.

Meanwhile, Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh termed the attacks as “a clear manifestation of savagery and insanity”.

“Everyone, including civil society, condemned these attacks. Necessary action would be taken in these incidents,” DGP Singh said.

According to official figures, 42 militants have been killed in the past three months in Kashmir, as militancy shows no let up despite the stepped up counter-insurgency operations.

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