Protests spiral after brute killing of Kashmiri Pandit farmer: Kashmir

Protests spiral after brute killing of Kashmiri Pandit farmer, Puran Krishan Bhat, in Kashmir Valley; candlelight marches were held at several places in Kashmir Valley, in Srinagar, Baramulla, Bandipora, Anantnag, Kulgam, Kupwara, Ganderbal and Shopian districts

kashmiri PanditImage: The Indian Express

Terrorists shot dead a 56-year-old Kashmiri Pandit in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district on Saturday, the latest in a series of targeted attacks in the region, police officials familiar with the matter said. This killing has renewed protests by migrant Kashmiri Pandits employed under Prime Minister’s rehabilitation package, some even demanding relocation from Kashmir. For the past two weeks, even as visits by high political functionaries continued, Kashmiri Pandit (KP) families in the Kashmiri valley have alleged callous governmental neglect.

At 11 am on Monday, October 17, the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) that represents 805 families still living here, tweeted, “When GOI can provide elaborate security to the lakhs of Amarnath Yatris for the two months of the Yatra duration every year, why is it not possible for the GOI to provide (lasting and permanent) security to the 7k odd (7,000) KPs living in the Kashmir Valley.”



“Terrorists fired upon a civilian from the minority community, Shri Puran Krishan Bhat while he was on way to orchard in Chowdari Gund Shopian. He was immediately shifted to a hospital for treatment where he succumbed. Area cordoned off. Search in progress,” J&K Police tweeted.

In a statement issued late on Saturday, KFF spokesperson, Waseem Mir, said: “Today our cadre carried out an operation at Choudhary Gund area of Shopian in which one Kashmiri pandit Puran Krishnan was eliminated. We have already warned about our attacks on Pandits and non-locals working on the Modi led agenda of settler colonialism post abrogation of Article 370. Wherever you are don’t think you are out of our eyes. It’s just the matter of time and place. Next turn will be yours.”

Since the brute killing of Puran Krishan Bhat, a fruit grower, who was attacked near his residence in the Chowdhary Gund area of the district on Saturday morning (October 15), spiraling protests have erupted from the KP minority While the DIG claims that security was provided to the six Kashmiri Pandit families living in the village, the overall situation for the minority KPs in the Valley has been subject matter of deep dispute with the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) who represents 805 families living in the family consisting to taking to social media to highlight government unconcern and neglect.

Nine civilians, including migrant workers and local residents, have been killed in targeted attacks in Kashmir since May. Bhat’s killing comes two months after fruit seller Sunil Kumar Bhat, 48, was shot dead in Shopian. KFF claimed responsibility for that attack also.

On Saturday, shock and grief shrouded Bhat’s family members, who questioned the administration’s security arrangements for Kashmiri Pandits. Members of the Bhat family told The Hindustan Times, “We are told that Pandits are safe in their homes in Kashmir. He [Bhat] was shot dead at the gate of his house,” a relative of Bhat said on condition of anonymity. “He left behind 2 little children. He was the breadwinner, now he’s no more. Everything is finished. It’s a targeted killing. They [terrorists] don’t kill just anyone who comes before them but those whom they don’t like. They don’t want Pandits in Kashmir,” another relative of his said.

Saturday’s attack also renewed widespread protests by Pandit employees. “Our worst fears have once again come true. We have already fled the Valley otherwise we feel many of us would have been dead. The government has remained unmoved and paid no heed to our pleas for relocation,” Nikhil Kaul, one of the protesters who blocked the Jammu-Akhnoor road, said. Yogesh Pandit, another protester, even said they will not return to Kashmir till the situation becomes better. “The killing of Bhat exposed the government’s claims about the improved security situation in the Valley. We will not return till the situation becomes normal in a true sense,” he said.

While Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha and politicians from across the party lines condemned the attack, there has been no response on officialdom in terms of accepting and applying the PM Rehab package with immediate effect.

“Attack on Puran Krishan Bhat by terrorists in Shopian is a dastardly act of cowardice. My heartfelt condolences to bereaved family. I assure the people that the perpetrators and those aiding and abetting terrorists will be severely punished,” Sinha tweeted.

National Conference vice president and former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah offered condolences to Bhat’s family. “Another reprehensible attack. I unequivocally condemn this attack in which Pooran Krishan Bhat has lost his life. I send my heartfelt condolences to his family. May Pooran ji’s soul rest in peace,” he said.

Condemning the killing, BJP general secretary (Org) Ashok Koul said. “These things will not be tolerated anymore as these attacks are aimed to disturb the peace in the region.”

The PDP said while the Kashmiri Pandits have been protesting for the last five months demanding their relocation, the “LG administration in their hubris kept turning a blind eye to their plight”. “Today yet another Kashmiri Pandit, Puran Krishan, was shot dead in Shopian. Thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family,” the party said.

Increased violence

The August attack was claimed by ‘Kashmir Freedom Fighters’, an offshoot of Al Badr, in a statement that said that the Pandit brothers had been targeted for encouraging people to take part in the ‘Tiranga rallies’ in the run-up to Independence Day celebrations.

Sources had then said the government, based on inputs from the country’s top body for intelligence sharing ‘Multi-Agency Centre’, was bracing for more such violence.

“There are regular inputs which suggest that a large quantity of small arms and ammunition has been smuggled from across the border, and it’s a clear indicator that such targeted killing and isolated cases of grenade throwing will see an increase in coming days,” a senior officer in the Home Ministry has said then.

Kashmir has been witnessing a series of targeted killings since October last year. Many of the victims have been migrant workers or Kashmiri Pandits. In October last year, seven civilians were killed in five days – four among them a Kashmiri Pandit, a Sikh, and two migrant Hindus. Three others were local Muslims.

In May, terrorists had also barged into the tehsildar’s office in Budgam and shot dead 36-year-old Rahul Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit who received a government job under a package for the community that was forced to flee the Valley during the wave of militancy in the 1990s.

The killing triggered a wave of protests by the minority community. Kashmiri Pandits held demonstrations during which they raised slogans under the central government and questioned if they brought them back to the Valley to get killed.


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