Displaced Kashmiri Pandit (KP) employees, who left the Valley at night and arrived at Jammu, today said they will not return to become “sitting ducks for target practice of teenage stonepelters”.
Over 200 employees from various KP colonies in the Valley where they were posted under the Prime Minister Special Employment package in 2008, narrated incidents of stone pelting by teenagers, even females, stopping of milk and other supplies and the failure of security forces, despite distress calls from the PMO to the CMO and DGP.
“We have decided not to join our jobs. The governments at the Centre and the state have failed to protect us, despite distress calls from the Prime Minister’s Office. There was no security deployment around our camp despite stone pelting by teenagers,” Sarita Kumari, a government employee posted in south Kashmir and living in Vessu transit accommodation, told reporters here.
Tears rolling down her cheeks, she narrated the horror at night and periodic stone pelting by teenagers, even females, which she said were unseen in the past. “We are asking the Centre whether we are sitting ducks for teenage stonepelters in Kashmir,” she said. KP employees said they had high hopes from the Narendra Modi and Mehbooba Mufti governments that they will protect them as they had volunteered to go to the Valley and serve the Kashmiri society, despite opposition from within the community.
Veena, living in Sheikhpora Budgam transit accommodation, said, “The community should support our cause. We cannot serve in Kashmir again. How can we teach those who resort to stone-pelting?” “The Central and state governments have failed to protect a handful of KP employees in different transit accommodations even as they talk of bringing back seven lakh KPs to Kashmir with honour and dignity,” said King Charanjeev whose wife Shashi works as a teacher in the Valley.
“KP employees were put under lock-and-key in Mattan transit accommodation and were not allowed to leave for their homes in Jammu. Are we sacrificial goats?” he asked. “Milk and other supplies were stopped to the KP colonies by traders for the last few days,” he alleged. KP employees hit out at the Kashmiri Muslim society and separatists for their statements to the international community that Pandits were welcome and the society would protect them in their homes in Kashmir.
“Kashmiri mainstream leaders, civil society and separatists did not stop the attacks on KP colonies. Nobody helped us. These are the people who used to ask Pandits to come back to the Valley where they would protect them. We were targeted the way it had happened in 1990,” said Sandeep Kumar.
Sanjay Kumar, whose wife and family are still stuck in the troubled Haal transit accommodation, alleged, “The Haal employees colony was attacked by stone pelting mobs dozens of times during three days. The river was diverted to flood the colony to kill the inmates. “On the fourth day, Rashtriya Rifles troops from Rajouri were brought to protect the area while four days of stone pelting damaged vehicles and window panes of the quarters,” he said.
Dheeraj Kumar, a teacher in Kupwara district, Vimalji of Mattan camp and Sunita of Mattan said they will not join services and called for a fool-proof security set-up in the Valley. KP organisations hit out at the Centre and state for attacks on the community across Kashmir and threatened to recall all the employees from the Valley if the governments failed to instill confidence among them.
“We would recall all the employees to Jammu. They should sit with their families here. Are we waiting for Pandits to get killed in Kashmir?” asked RK Bhat, President, Youth All India Kashmiri Samaj (YAIKS).
YAIKS has called a meet of distressed KP employees along with leaders of a number of organisations to chart out a white paper on the 2016 unrest and targeting of KPs.