Protests Erupt in J&K After Kashmiri Pandit’s Killing, Community Threatens to Resign En Masse; Hundreds Gather for Cremation

A day after the killing of a Kashmiri Pandit in Budgam, protests started in several parts of Jammu and Kashmir as members of the community working in the valley demanded safety. The Kashmiri pandits also said they will resign en masse if they are not given a safe passage to Jammu.

Videos of the protests showed members of the community raising slogans against the central government saying it has failed them.

Rahul Bhat, who had got the job of a clerk under the special employment package for migrants in 2010-11, was gunned down by terrorists inside the Tehsil office in Chadoora town.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, mourners flocked the house of the government employee as his family and relatives waited for his body and the father demanded a probe into the incident.

“His body should be returned immediately and an inquiry ordered into the incident to identify all those who are involved in his cold-blooded murder,” his father Bita Bhat said at his Durga Nagar residence in the outskirts of Jammu.

“He used to say everyone behaves nicely with him and nobody can harm him. Yet nobody protected him, they (terrorists) must’ve asked someone about him, otherwise, how would they’ve known,” wife of Rahul Bhat said.

Bhat’s father has demanded an investigation into the motive behind the killing. He added that his son gave his life for the government.

Wails and shrieks filled the house as mourners including neighbours and relatives rushed to comfort the family after hearing about the killing of Bhat, who was in his early 30s. “I was at a hospital accompanying my ailing brother when a family friend called from Kashmir and informed me about the incident. I tried to contact the deputy commissioner of Budgam and the concerned police officers but my calls went unanswered, the father told the mediapersons, trying to put up a brave face and hold up his emotions.

He said it was the responsibility of the deputy commissioner to at least inform the family as his employee was killed inside his office chamber in broad-daylight. If a person is shot inside his office, nobody is safe in the valleywhen such a thing has happened it is a glaring example of the government’s failure. Those serving (among the Kashmiri Pandits) there are doing it at their own risk as the government has failed to provide security to them, he said.

Politicians cutting across party lines condemned the killing and demanded stern action against the perpetrators of violence. The coward Pakistani terrorists have once again bled the Kashmir by the cold-blooded murder of Bhatthose behind the killings will not be spared and will be eliminated by our security forces, J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina said.

Reacting to the reports of police personnel foiling the march of the Kashmiri Pandits, NCP leader Omar Abdullah called the move shameful and backed the community’s right to protest.

“It’s shameful that legitimate & justified protests are met with a heavy-handed response. This is not new for the people of Kashmir because when all the administration has is a hammer every problem resembles a nail. If the LG’s Govt can’t protect KPs they have a right to protest,” Abdullah said in a tweet.

Cremation Amid Protests

Rahul Bhat was cremated on Friday amid a protest by members of the Kashmiri Pandit community. As the mortal remains of Rahul Bhat reached his home in Durga Nagar area of Jammu on Friday morning, his relatives wept inconsolably.

Rahul Bhat’s wife and daughter, who were putting up with him at Sheikhpora migrant colony in Budgam, accompanied the body as it arrived here from Kashmir.

His brother Sunny lit the pyre at the Buntalab cremation ground as chants of “long live Rahul Bhat” rented the air. Meanwhile, hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits gathered at Bhat’s house in Jammu for the last rites.

The community members, including Rahul Bhat’s family, accused the BJP-led government at the Centre of making young Kashmiri Hindus “cannon fodder” in the name of rehabilitation of the community. They also said the incident has shattered their dream of resettling permanently in the valley.

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