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Valley Pandits go on fast, demand freedom from fear

Fed up with empty promises, they are resorting to fast as a protest measure. The Kashmiri Pandit community, yet to recover from the scars of...

Fed up with empty promises, they are resorting to fast as a protest measure. The Kashmiri Pandit community, yet to recover from the scars of the recent Nadimarg massacre in which 24 of their ilk were shot dead by militants, today said they were going on a ‘fast unto death’, putting the Mufti Sayeed-led state government on a three months notice to address their security concerns. Or else, they say, the entire community will migrate out of the Valley.

Gathered in the precincts of Ramji Temple in Kothibagh here, around 30 representatives of the remaining 5,000 strong community from across the Valley spelt out their demands to the government. ‘‘First and foremost, we want the government to set up clusters of Pandit community homes in different districts of the Valley that would make us secure. Second, we want quick rehabilitation of displaced members who had to move out of their homes in the far off villages. And third, we want employment for our youth,’’ president of Hindu Welfare Society Moti Lal Bhat said.

Community elders lambasted the Mufti government alleging it hadn’t fulfilled promsies given in the wake of the Nadimarg massacre. ‘‘All these leaders rushed to Nadimarg after the carnage and persuaded the remaining members of our community to stay back assuring security would be beefed up. But since then nothing has been done. We are still living in fear. This govt appears to be waiting for another massacre before they would agree to our demands. It’s better for them to round us up and shoot us dead rather than leave us to live like this,’’ another leader Chunni Lal Bhat raged as other members noded in approval.

Amidst the circle dominated by males, Santoshaji, a mother of five children from Budgam in Kashmir, echoed the same sentiments. ‘‘If they don’t want us here then they should let us migrate out of the Valley. I have three grown up daughters to marry off and two sons who are unemployed. We have suffered like the Muslims here for last 14 years, there must be an end to it.’’

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Five days after the Nadimarg massacre, the state government had intercepted a convoy of fleeing survivors on their way out of Valley and impressed on them to stay back. But a week later most of the survivors migrated out unconvinced by the governments assurances about their safety.

First published on: 05-05-2003 at 12:00:00 am
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