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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Kashmiri Pandits hit the streets, block Srinagar-Budgam highway over killing

As protestors put up a blockade on the Srinagar-Budgam highway, the police resorted to using tear gas cannisters to disperse them.

By: Express News Service | Srinagar |
Updated: May 13, 2022 4:23:40 pm
As protestors put up a blockade on the Srinagar-Budgam highway, the police arrived to disperse them. (Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

A constable with the Jammu and Kashmir Police was shot dead by suspected militants at his residence in Gudroo, Pulwama early on Friday morning, the police said. This is the second killing in the Valley in the last 24 hours.

The deceased has been identified as Reyaz Ahmad Thoker. The constable was rushed to the local hospital where he succumbed to the injuries, said Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Zone) Vijay Kumar.

This comes a day after Rahul Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit who worked at the tehsil office at Chadoora in Kashmir’s Budgam district, was killed within his office premises. Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha met the family members of Bhat to offer his condolences. “Met the relatives of Rahul Bhat and assured justice to the family. In this hour of grief, the government stands firmly with Rahul’s family. Terrorists and their supporters will have to pay a very heavy price for their heinous act,” his office tweeted.

Meanwhile, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti was allegedly denied permission to visit Bhat’s family in Pulwama on Friday morning. Mufti said she wanted to visit Budgam to express solidarity with Kashmiri Pandits protesting against the central government’s “failure to protect them”.

Kashmiri Pandits protest the recent killings in the Valley. (Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

In a tweet on Friday, Mufti added that she was placed under house arrest “as the fact that Kashmiri Muslims & Pandits empathise with each other’s pain doesn’t fit into their vicious communal narrative.”

As protestors put up a blockade on the Srinagar-Budgam highway, the police resorted to using tear gas cannisters to disperse them. Former CM Omar Abdullah termed the police’s high-handedness “shameful”, saying, “This is not new for the people of Kashmir because when all the administration has is a hammer every problem resembles a nail. If the LG’s government can’t protect KPs (Kashimiri Pandits) they  have a right to protest.”

As protestors put up a blockade on the Srinagar-Budgam highway, the police arrived to disperse them. (Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

He also took on the Manoj Sinha-led administration over its claims of normalcy, adding, “Tourism is not normalcy, it’s a barometer of economic activity. Normalcy is the absence of fear, the absence of terror, the inability of militants to strike at will, the presence of democratic rule and by any yardstick you choose to use, Kashmir is far from normal today.”

As protestors put up a blockade on the Srinagar-Budgam highway, the police arrived to disperse them. (Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

Civil administration officials who came to assuage protesters were turned away from the spot as members of the Pandit community refused to engage with government officials till “the LG came to the site.” A protester, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “The police are resorting to lathicharge. The administration makes such bold statements about normalcy. Is this normal? They should move us all to Jammu and resolve this security issue once and for all.”

A protester at Sheikhpora, Budgam, Vimal Bhat who spoke to The Indian Express said, “This is not the first such killing (referring to the death of Bhat). The government has been making many claims about our security. All their assurances have failed. In another six months, there will be another protest over another killing. This has to end.”

Mufti, meanwhile, appealed for peace and urged the majority community in the Valley to stand by the minorities and uphold “J&K’s legacy of peace and unity.” “In view of targeted killings, I appeal to people of J&K to stand together in these turbulent times so that GOI doesn’t use this tragic incident to further malign Muslims across the country,” she added.

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