Kashmir Pandits continue protests, demand relocation

SRINAGAR — 55 civilians were killed in J&K since January 2021 by militants, with 35 and 20 among them gunned down in 2021 and till 2nd June of this year, respectively.

As per the data collected by Srinagar-based news agency Kashmir Dot Com, 20 targeted killings took place in J&K this year till June 2 which is almost double the killings that were recorded in the corresponding period in 2021.

In 2022, the first killing took place on February 5 of a person, Mohammad Akram Shah in Targain village of Jammu’s Poonch district, which was followed by the killing of another civilian, Shakeel Ahmad, in the same month in Amshipora area of Shopian, as per the data. The other 18 among 20 persons were killed between March 2022 to June 2, 2022, which include the victims of both target killings and grenade attacks.

The majority of the civilian killings so far this year were seen in south Kashmir, followed by Budgam and Srinagar, the data shows.

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However, in 2021, the first six months saw 11 killings with another remaining six months recording 24 killings, a part of the year which is yet to be witnessed this year.

In the last month of May, six civilian killings took place, which include a Kashmiri Pandit employee Rahul Bhat in Chadoora Budgam; Rajini Bala, a teacher in Kulgam; Ambreen Bhat, a TV artist in Budgam; Ranjit Singh, who was killed in a grenade attack on a liquor shop in Baramulla and others.

A recent addition to target killings was a Bank Manager Vijay Kumar from Rajasthan, who was killed on June 2 in Kulgam followed by a non-local labourer Dilkush Kumar in Budgam on the same day.

This year so far, four Panchayat members were killed by militants. The slain Panchayat members include a Panch Mohammad Yaqoob Dar of Kulpora Srandroo Kulgam, who was shot dead at his residence on March 2; a PDP Sarpanch Sameer Bhat was killed in the Khonmoh area of Srinagar on March 9; Sarpanch Shabir Ahmed Mir from Audoora Kulgam was killed near his residence on March 11 and an independent Sarpanch Manzoor Bangroo, who was killed in Pattan area of Baramulla district on April 15.

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In the backdrop of the recent target attacks in the Valley, the Kashmiri Pandits have been protesting for their relocation after the killing of Rahul Bhat by militants in broad daylight in his office premises. The protests further intensified after a teacher Rajini Bala was killed in a school in south Kashmir’s Kulgam.

As the situation turned grim in the Valley with the spurt in the attack on civilians and non-locals, a meeting was conducted in New Delhi between Home Minister Amit Shah, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and RAW chief Samant Goel.

Meanwhile, a meeting is underway at North Block, New Delhi between Home Minister Amit Shah, NSA Doval, RAW Chief, Army Chief General Manoj Pandey, Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, LG Manoj Sinha, DG CRPF Kuldeep Singh, BSF Chief Pankaj Singh, J&K Chief Dilbag Singh and other top officials.

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