Fear and acrimony are rife in the Kashmir valley, after at least eight instances of targeted killings were reported across the region in the last few weeks, sparking widespread protests.
Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits, including government employees and members of the Dogra Front in Jammu and Awami Awaaz, stepped out in Srinagar on Thursday, to protest against the spate of targeted killings of Hindus and threatened to migrate to Jammu region.
According to Deccan Herald, there are around 4,000 migrant employees in the valley who have been employed under the prime minister's scheme and are posted in district or municipal town areas.
In light of the increase in targeted crime, the J&K administration is now grappling with protests by Kashmiri Hindu employees, who have been demanding their transfer out of the Kashmir valley.
Sitting in a demonstration in Srinagar on Thursday, a protester had voiced his condemnation of the state of affairs and said,
"Kashmir belongs to not only Kashmiris, but also Kashmiri Pandits. But Hindus are now fleeing from here, because they don't feel secure. What is the administration doing besides making hollow promises? We want the government to provide security to the Pandits in the valley."
A string of protests marked with anxiety and alarm, has been taking place since 12 May, when many, including government officers and employees, turned migrant colonies in the Anantnag district into protest sites.
The minority communities in the territory had appealed to the governor's administration to ensure that Kashmiri Pandits are safe in the valley after Rahul Bhat, an employee at the tehsildar's office in Budgam, succumbed to his wounds after being injured during a shooting.
In 2 Days, Over 100 Kashmiri Pandits Flee the Valley
On Thursday, Sanjay Tickoo, President of Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, said that around 165 Kashmiri Pandits have already left the valley since Wednesday.
"It is insecurity that is making them leave. The government says everything is okay but the situation in Kashmir is crawling back to the '90s," said Tickoo.
Day-long protests over safety and relocation were already underway in Kashmir after a teacher, Rajni Bala, was shot dead by terrorists at a high school in Gopalpora area of Jammu and Kashmir's Kulgam earlier this week.
The protesters took to the streets and blocked a road in Kulgam.
The uproar continued on Friday, as group of government employees, mostly teachers, staged a sit-in protest in Panama Chowk in Jammu, seeking transfer to their home districts in the region. These teachers had fled Kashmir after Bala's murder.
"We are not going to return to Kashmir to resume our duties in the prevailing alarming situation following the targeted killings. We prefer to die here rather than go back," Surinder Kumar told PTI.
A female protester, who has been a resident of the Valley for over 15 years, expressed that the Hindu population in Kashmir was living without fear for the last decade, but the attacks have now given rise to widespread panic and raised security concerns.
Employees Under PM's Scheme Asked To Leave, Stay in Transit Camps
Meanwhile, a forum of Kashmiri Pandit refugees employed under the PM's package have asked employees who stay on rent to leave the valley and protest in Jammu.
"We have asked families who stay on rent to leave the valley and protest outside the relief commissioner's office in Jammu," said Sunny Raina, leader of PMP employees at Vessu, Kulgam.
Ashok Bhat, the father of a Kashmiri Pandit employee in Vessu added that security forces are not allowing anyone to leave the camp.
"Today, they didn't let us go out of the camp... not even to the nearby shops," he said.
While the Centre has announced construction of 6,000 transit camps in the valley for PM package employees, only 15% of the work has been completed till date.
Out of 6,000 jobs declared for KP refugees under PM's package, around 5,928 have been filled.
According to an Indian Express report, "No more than 1,037 of them live in secure accommodations."
(With inputs from Muneeb ul Isman.)
(Since you have taken an interest in reading about Kashmir, I have a request for you. The Quint has been working on a documentary regarding the plight of Kashmiri Pandits. We would be grateful if you could support our upcoming special project, 'Uprooted - Stories of Kashmiri Pandits' - Anthony S Rozario, Associate Editor, Special Projects.)