In Shadow of Attacks, Low Turnout of Kashmiri Hindus at Kheer Bhawani Mela

Communal disharmony was thrown out of the window as Muslims warmly greeted and embraced Kashmiri Pandits.

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The annual Kheer Bhawani Mela at the the Rajnya Devi temple in Kashmir's Tulmulla Ganderbal is currently underway in the shadow of a spree of killings of Kashmiri Hindus and Pandits, the effect of which is visible on the footfall at the religious festival.

Very few Kashmiri Hindus turned up at the festival on Wednesday, 8 June, in central Kashmir amid fear of targeted killings at the hands of terrorists, with many calling it one of the lowest turnout in years.

People offered special prayers to goddess Rajnya Devi, popularly called Kheer Bhawani. The devotees also offered milk and kheer to the sacred spring located at the temple premises.


Kheer Bhawani Melas are organised at five shrines across the Valley. These include Ragnya Bhagwati shrines at Tulmulla in Ganderbal, Manzgam in Kulgam, Devsar in Kulgam, Logripora in Anantnag, and Tikkar in Kupwara.

The Tulmulla temple nestles in the shelter of humongous Chinar trees.

Targetted Killings in Kashmir

The row of killings has triggered widespread protests, with the most recent incidents of a bank manager and a migrant labourer being shot dead in Budgam and Kulgam, respectively.

Rajni Bala, a school teacher at a Gopalpora high school, was shot by militants in Kulgam on 31 May. The incident led to massive protests.

While government employee Rahul Bhat was killed in his Budgam office by local terrorists on 12 May, TV actress Amreen Bhat was shot dead by terrorists in her Budgam residence.

The current situation in Kashmir is being compared to that of 90s by many when countless Kashmiri Pandits were forced out of their homes following a rise in violence due to insurgency. The exodus of 1990s is one of the causes of increase in militancy and the targetted killings in the current scenario.

(With inputs from Muneeb Ul Islam)

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