The Jammu and Kashmir administration has issued orders to stop the salaries of Kashmiri Hindus employees protesting in the valley for months demanding their relocation to a safer place amid targeted killings of minorities by the militants.
The labour department of Kashmir and additional deputy commissioner, Anantnag, had on Wednesday, 22 September, issued orders to stop the salaries of Kashmiri migrant employees on strike in the valley In his order, Deputy Labour Commissioner (DLC) Kashmir Ahmad Hussain Bhat directed all assistant labour commissioners across districts in the Kashmir valley to stop the salaries of these employees for September.
Bhat sought the leave accounts of all the employees of the department and said, "Further, salary for the month of September 2022 should not be drawn in respect of those PM package employees, who have remained absent during the month of September." A similar order has been issued by the ADC Anantnag.
‘It Is a Conspiracy Against Us'
Irate over the orders, striking employees intensified their agitation, which entered 133rd day on Thursday, calling the order harassment and an arm-twisting move to break their agitation.
Amid slogans of 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai', 'We Want Justice', and 'We Want Relocation', hundreds of employees held protests under the banner of All Migrant (Displaced) Employees Association Kashmir (AMEAK) – one of the organisations spearheading the agitation.
"It is a step towards harassment of the community. It is a conspiracy against us. We honestly performed our duty for the last ten years in Kashmir until the selective killings of our employees, like Rahul Bhat, threatened the life and dignity of our community employees in the valley."A protester.
"What is our crime? We have taught children of the majority community with utmost sincerity for ten years. Why are we being targeted and killed," said another employee.
The employees said that on the one hand they are getting letters with death threats from the terror outfits, and on the other, they are being forced to come to work and risk becoming sitting ducks for the militants to target.
"Please provide us security which is your prime duty. Why are you threatening us with these orders? We are not afraid of stopping of our salaries or anything else. If our lives are threatened, we will leave jobs,” said one of the leaders of the agitation. “We want to tell the government you cannot torture us and our families,” he said.
'Soft Targets for the Terrorists'
The Kashmiri Pandit employees recruited under the Prime Minister's special rehabilitation package and posted in different parts of the Kashmir valley said they were soft targets for the terrorists and the government has failed to protect them.
Nearly 4,000 Kashmiri Pandits began working in different departments in the valley after their selection under the prime minister's employment package.
They have been on an indefinite strike with a demand for their relocation outside the valley since the killing of their colleague Rahul Bhat. Bhat was shot dead by terrorists inside his office in Budgam district of central Kashmir on 12 May.
Hundreds of the employees have already returned to Jammu and are holding regular protests at the office of the relief commissioner, while their colleagues in the valley are on protest at their camps, despite repeated attempts by the government to end the impasse with the assurance of their relocation to safer zones within the valley.