‘Pandits leaving Kashmir out of fear,’ claims Tickoo; officials deny

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Following the recent spurt of attacks on civilians, including people belonging to minority communities, Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samithi (KPSS) president Sanjay Tickoo said that a large number of the pandit families are leaving the valley.

Tickoo told The Kashmir Walla that the community including migrants and non-migrant are no longer feeling safe in the valley. 

Tickoo said that he has been receiving several calls from Pandits across the valley that they were “leaving out of fear”. 

He said that the government and majority community has “failed to extend required support” to the pandit families.

On Thursday morning suspected militants barged into Government Boys Higher Secondary School, Eidgah in downtown area of capital city Srinagar and killed two teachers including the head of the school. The duo was identified as Supinder Kour – head of the school – of Allochi Bagh, Srinagar and Deepak Chand of Jammu.

Tickoo said it was the responsibility of the government to provide security to the minority but they have “failed to do so”. 

He added that majority Muslim community has also failed to play its role as “they should have come out on roads in large gathering to condemn the spate of attacks and sent message to the perpetrators of the crime.”

The valley has not seen any major procession since the region was stripped of its autonomy in August 2019. At least 29 killings  have taken place this year, among them five belonged to the minority Sikh and Pandit community while 22 are from the Muslim community. Two among the killed were non-local labourers.

Following the killing of two teachers,  political and religious leaders vehemently condemned the killing. On Friday morning Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders and workers took out a procession in the capital city Srinagar to condemn the killings. 

However, Tickoo termed the condemnation nothing but the “lip service”.

“Onus is on the majority community. When the killing of militants can gather lakhs of people, why not civilian killings,” he said.

“Today is Friday maximum people are in Masjids offering prayers, sermons are going on. Is there a sermon anywhere where it is being told that we should collectively come out and give a signal to the world that we are one,” Tickoo asked.

“A clear message should have been given that there should be no killing [in the valley] whether it is combatant or non-combatant,” he added. “Is anyone giving such a sermon? No, one is giving.”

However as per reports people from minority community in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district have been asked to restrict movement in the backdrop of spurt of attacks.

A Pandit who lives in Vessu Kulgam told The Kashmir Walla that people were not leaving as it is being projected. 

“As authorities have advised us to restrict the movement in the district, some Pandit employees who are staying here have decided to go to Jammu for some time to visit their families there,” he said. “However, authorities told us to avoid attending offices due to the tense situation in the valley.”

In Vessu nearly 250 Pandit employees are putting up, who are working in different government offices across the valley.

Earlier several top police officers while talking to The Kashmir Walla said that reports of pandits leaving Kashmir are “baseless” and adequate security measures were already in place.

A top administrative officer in south Kashmir said, “there are no reports of Pandits leaving the valley, and  we are continuously monitoring the situation.” 

On Thursday morning, Chairperson of the All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) said that attempts were being made to “communalise” the situation by some elements, but they [APSCC]  was “trying to protect it from taking communal colour and protecting the brotherhood in the region”.

Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh on Thursday said that the killing of unarmed civilians in Srinagar is a move to damage and attack the age-old traditional communal harmony in Kashmir and added that “the killers will be nabbed very soon.”

Singh said that spurt of attacks on civilians was an attempt to defame local muslims of Kashmir.

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