Protests grip J&K after terrorists kill Kashmiri Pandit
Several parts of the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) witnessed massive protests from the Kashmiri Pandits after a 35-year-old man from the community was shot dead in Budgam district on Thursday afternoon. The protesters also blocked the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway near Anantnag's Vessu village on Thursday afternoon demanding the safety of the community. Protests were also staged at Mattan transit camp in Anantnag.
- The Kashmiri Pandits have been the target of militancy over the last three decades.
- This is the third attack against the community this year.
- In April, militants shot and injured Bal Krishan Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit, inside his medical shop in J&K's Kulgam.
- Seven people also died in October 2021 when militants carried out a number of attacks on Kashmiri Pandits and migrant workers.
The killing also triggered protests from the Kashmiri Pandit government employees serving in the Valley, who accused the administration of failing to fulfill its promises regarding the safety of the people. Protests were also staged outside J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha's house in Srinagar at 10 am on Friday.
"Only one demand—either provide us safety [gun and its license] or transfer us to Jammu. No other demand. We cannot die like dogs and cats, we are human beings," read a message being circulated on social media with the hashtag #SaveKashmiriPanditsandMinorities.
As per reports, terrorists opened fire at an employee of the revenue department in J&K's Budgam district on Thursday afternoon. The incident reportedly happened at the Tehsildar office in Chadoora. The victim, identified as Rahul Bhatt (30), a Kashmiri Pandit, sustained serious injuries in the incident. He was reportedly rushed to a hospital in Srinagar, where he was declared dead.
Questioning the safety of Pandits, the victim's father Bitta Ji Bhat, a retired Assistant Police Sub Inspector, based in Jammu, asked, "Is this how the government will take us back home to the Valley?" "The government has totally failed to protect Kashmiri Pandits," he added.
Police said two militants were involved in the incident and they shot Bhat at point-blank with a pistol. Following the attack, a joint team of J&K Police, Army, and Paramilitary forces cordoned off the area and a search operation was launched. According to a report by India Today, the little-known terror group Kashmir Tigers claimed responsibility for the attack.
Meanwhile, all major political parties in J&K strongly condemned the killing. J&K PDP chief and former CM Mehbooba Mufti said, "It (the attack) exposes the false claims of normalcy in Kashmir." National Conference leader and ex-Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also took to Twitter to condemn the same. BJP's state unit chief Ravinder Raina said, "Those involved in the crime will be neutralized very soon".