The threat perception is such that no one from the pandit community in Kashmir valley is ready to speak on camera.
Srinagar: The broad daylight murder of Makhan Lal Bindroo, a well-know pharmacist and a prominent figure in the non-migrant Pandit community followed by the target killing of two teachers—Supinder Kour and Deepak Chand—has triggered fresh exodus of the minority community, particularly Pandits from the Kashmir valley. Sources have told The Sunday Guardian that if not a mass exodus, but Kashmiri Pandits who remained in the Valley all these years are not moving out in ones and twos fearing for their lives. “2-3 families from Sheikhpora Pandit Colony have left for Jammu during the last few days,” sources confirmed to The Sunday Guardian. Meanwhile, security has been further beefed up in and outside the colony which was primarily set up by the government many years back to settle the non-migrant Pandits who remained scattered to various pockets of Budgam district. “It is easier to protect a closed colony than an open congested village,” a police officer said. Entry of outsiders into the colony has been stopped and even media persons are not allowed to enter the premises.
Apart from the migration of some families, Pandit teachers who were employed under a package too are moving to Jammu for security reasons. One of the pre-conditions for their employment as teachers was to stay and serve in Kashmir.
Jagmohan Singh Raina, who heads the All Party Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) and is a well-known face having good influence in the Sikh community, said that if the government and the majority community fail to secure Sikhs, they shall be forced to leave. “We don’t want security from the police. We want security from the majority community. We have lived amicably all these years. Now the harmony is being disturbed,” he told this reporter.
On Friday, charged up youths of the Sikh community shouted slogans against The Resistance Front (TRF), the group being held responsible for the target killings. “We made sure that the angry youth are kept under control,” Raina said.
The threat perception is such that no one from the Pandit community in Kashmir valley is ready to speak on camera. Sanjay Tickoo, who stayed in Kashmir all these years of turmoil and turbulence, declined repeated requests by this reporter to come on camera. “I have been advised to keep low and stay under security for some time,” Tickoo said. He however sent an audio message to this reporter which said that the situation has returned to the 1990s when Kashmiri Pandits were killed selectively forcing a mass exodus.
“If the killing of minorities continues like this, we may see a fresh migration of Pandits who had decided to stay back in Kashmir three decades ago,” Tickoo said. He said that the majority community is on “silent mode” and unless they speak and protest against these killings, Pandits shall continue to remain under threat.
Political and security experts believe that the target killing of minority community, particularly Pandit members, is a multi-pronged strategy hatched by the ISI. “Firstly, it is to prick the rehabilitation balloon of the government. Secondly, it is to deter the KPs from reclaiming their properties. Who shall risk his life for property,” one of the political analysts told The Sunday Guardian.
It is worth mentioning that property worth millions of rupees has been retrieved by the administration in Kashmir in the last few weeks and the same has been restored to their owners. But now with the fresh spate of killings, the situation is back to square one.