Jammu & Kashmir: A grieving widow’s angry words, make admin act

Nearly two weeks after Rahul Bhat was shot by terrorists, Lt Gov meets family

Kashmiri pandits
Image courtesy: Umar Ganie / Rediff.com

Kashmiri Pandit government employee Rahul Bhat was killed by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam district on May 12. Almost two weeks of protests by the KP community, and strong statements by Bhat’s wife, Meenakshi Raina, on how his death had been ignored by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha visited the family in Jammu to extend his condolences. The Lt. Gov’s visit to the grieving family comes a day after he met protesting Kashmiri Pandits in the valley. 

Rahul Bhat, a state revenue department employee, was shot dead by terrorists in tehsil office in Chadoora town in J&K’s Badgam district. The J&K administration had sanctioned a compassionate appointment for Bhat’s wife “in the pay level of Rs. 14,800-47,100 in Government Higher Secondary School Nowabad”, according to Outlook. She had rejected the offer, as well as the cash compensation of around Rs Five lakh. 

Bhat’s grieving wife, in a volatile interview to Mojo Story and others, had rejected the job offered, as she said it was that of a ‘bearer’, and that the amount offered as compensation was a mere Rs Five lakhs which was not enough to secure the future of her young daughter. The now single parent had said that while it was claimed that the terrorists who were suspected to have killed the Kashmiri Pandit were gunned down by the J&K Police, “their faces had not been showen” to confirm it. Stoic and clearly dealing with her deep pain she had unequivocally rejected the meagre compensation given by the government and highlighted that the Lt. Gov had not even met the family.

Eventualy, as the community continued to protest in the Valley, Lt. Gov Manoj Sinha met Rahul Bhat’s wife, brother, and other members of the family and “assured them that the terrorists and their supporters paid a heavy price.” Sinha also said that the J&K administration will provide a government job to Rahul Bhat’s wife along with financial assistance. 



According to news reports, Rahul’s father Bituji Bhat said Sinha has assured them that “the government will do whatever possible to provide relief to us.” According to news reports, Bhat’s wife said an assurance was given that she will get a better job and that the expenses for the education of her daughter will be borne by the government.

On Monday, Sinha met Kashmiri Pandit protestors in Budgam, who have been raising their voice against the killing of Rahul Bhat. Since Rahul Bhat’s murder, the Kashmiri Pandit community has been staging protests against the J&K administration. In Anantnag, Kashmiri Pandits shaved off their heads in protest, and raised slogans against the administration, in Budgam, stated news reports, protesters burned Manoj Sinha’s effigy.

Shortly after Meenakshi Raina lashed out at the BJP-led government holding them responsible for the lack of security that led to her husband being killed, the establishment swung into action. 

On Monday, when Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha met the Kashmiri Pandits at Pandit Colony Sheikhpura he said, “I know I have come late,” and began explaining why he had not come to meet the grieving community members till now. He said he had been informed about the “problems” of the protesting groups, and said he had met Bhat’s sister and brother in law. He said he had been travelling and then came when he could. 

The protesting KPs, who are government employees posted there, have been demanding that LG assure them of their security, else post them to Jammu. They have continued their protests even after Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Vijay Kumar met them a few days ago. Bhat’s wife had also said he did not have any security and may have been ‘betrayed’ by an insider. “He used to say everyone behaves nicely with him and nobody can harm him. Yet nobody protected him, they (terrorists) must’ve asked someone about him and his identity, otherwise, how would they’ve known,” she said.

Her allegations revive memories of similar statements made by Larkipora’s sarpanch Ajay Pandita Bharti, who was shot dead in 2020. He too had constantly been asking for security, but his request had fallen on the deaf ears of the Jammu and Kashmir administration and the Union Government which administers the Union Territory.  Ajay Pandita Bharti, too, had returned to the Kashmir region to serve his people and after he was brutally gunned down. Sheen, his young daughter, had told the Aaj Tak that the government had not provided Ajay Pandita security; he had perhaps asked for it on multiple occasions. She said when Ajay was elected Sarpanch, it was the government’s responsibility to give him security. Putting the BJP in the dock, she asked, “Why did they not give security? He was asking for what he should have got anyway. He did not get it even after he asked. Whose fault is it? Obviously it is the government’s fault.”



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