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Friday, August 19, 2022

As teacher is cremated, Jammu & Kashmir administration faces protests, anger

The protesters said that people from Jammu who have been posted in Kashmir — as part of an inter-district appointment scheme under the Scheduled Caste quota — will not return to the Valley until the government is able to ensure their safety.

jammu kashmir school teacher rajini bala Relatives and family members of government teacher Rajni Bala mourn during her funeral, in Samba, Wednesday, June 1, 2022. Rajni was shot at allegedly by terrorists in the Kulgam district of Kashmir Valley. (PTI Photo)

A day after militants gunned down a school teacher in Kashmir, people in Jammu’s Samba district blocked the Pathankot-Jammu national highway, demanding that employees from the division be moved out of the Valley.

Residents and school teachers who came from the Valley raised slogans against the BJP and Union Territory administration amid the hour-long blockade in a district considered a bastion of the party.

“This is a big failure of the government in protecting minorities in Kashmir,” said one teacher.

The protesters later lifted the dharna to join the funeral procession for the teacher, Rajni Bala, who was shot dead on Tuesday morning at her school in Kulgam district. She hailed from Samba.

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The protesters said that people from Jammu who have been posted in Kashmir — as part of an inter-district appointment scheme under the Scheduled Caste quota — will not return to the Valley until the government is able to ensure their safety.

jammu kashmir school teachers shot Relatives and daughter of deceased teacher Rajni Bala mourn her demise, at their residence in Samba, Tuesday, May 31, 2022. (PTI Photo)

The Union Territory’s administration is already facing pressure from Kashmiri Pandit employees working in Kashmir over the issue of their security, especially after militants killed revenue department employee Rahul Bhat inside Chadoora tehsil office in Budgam district last month. A number of them have already put in leave applications.

BJP leaders including J&K state chief Ravinder Raina, Lok Sabha member Poonch constituency Jugal Kishore Sharma and former minister Chander Parkash Ganga were greeted with angry slogans as they visited the house of Rajni Bala’s in-laws. “You have been giving us false assurances,” said a resident when Raina tried to pacify them.

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“For how long we will continue to get killed there (Kashmir),’, asked another, demanding that employees from Jammu be shifted out of the Valley.

A similar demand was made before Jammu Divisional Commissioner Ramesh Kumar and Additional Director General of Police Mukesh Singh who also visited the family.

jammu kashmir rajini bala school teacher Security personnel stand guard as people from the Kashmiri Pandit community block a road to protest against the killing of the school teacher Rajni Bala, near Srinagar Airport, Tuesday, May 31, 2022. (PTI Photo)

On Tuesday, Rajni Bala’s husband, Raj Kumar, had accused the administration of turning a “deaf ear” to their repeated requests for transfer to a safer area. With both finally transferred only on Monday night, Tuesday was supposed to be the last day for Rajni at the school.

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There are at least 2,000 Jammu-origin people from Scheduled Castes working in Kashmir for over a decade, said J&K president of the All India Confederation of SC, ST and OBC Organisations, R K Kalsotra. Their appointment is part of an inter-district recruitment policy aimed at filling the vacancies reserved for them,

There are also people from the Scheduled Tribes from Jammu who too have been posted there, said Kalsotra.

In a letter to the Chief Secretary of the Union Territory, he demanded a review of the transfer policy, saying employees should be allowed to work online from home until the situation stabilises in Kashmir.

jammu kashmir school teachers murdered kashmiri pandits Security personnel stand guard as people from the Kashmiri Pandit community block a road to protest against the killing of the school teacher Rajni Bala, near Srinagar Airport, Tuesday, May 31, 2022. (PTI Photo)

A number of minority community government employees, who returned to Jammu following the teacher’s killing, accused the government of having failed to control the situation.

“For the past 15 years, we never had such a feeling of insecurity. We had a strong bond of amity with the local population,’’ said a teacher who returned.

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“Our children go to school there… Our husbands go to the office every day, but none of us know if they will be returning home safely,’’ she said.

“This is a failure of the administration as it is doing nothing there,’’ she said.

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“Who is safe there,’’ she asked while referring to the killing of a female TV artist and a policeman, both of who belonged to the Muslim community.

First published on: 01-06-2022 at 08:30:26 pm
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