Kashmiri Pandit employees on Monday threatened to appeal to international human rights organizations for asylum if the central government failed to relocate them from the Valley in the wake of attacks on minorities. The employees, recruited under PM Package, have been protesting since the killing of one of their colleagues Rahul Bhat inside his office in the Chadoora area of Budgam district on May 12. Later, Rajni Bala, a government school teacher from the minority community, was shot dead by terrorists at her school in Kulgam district.
“On this international refugee day, we demand that our elected government (Centre) relocate and attach us with the office of Relief Commissioner Jammu till the situation in Kashmir improves,” Sanjay Kaul, a leader of the All Minority Employees Association Kashmir (AMEAK), told reporters at Sheikhpora Migrant colony in Budgam. He said if the government failed to address their demand for relocation, the employees will be forced to appeal to the international community and human rights organizations to come to their aid.
“Right now we have hopes with our elected government. If it fails in ensuring our safety, which can only be achieved by relocating us, we will be forced to appeal for asylum,” Kaul said. During Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s visit to the migrant colony, he had promised to keep the doors of dialogue open with the minority employees...But these doors have been shut. Issues cannot be resolved in one meeting. We are willing to take 10 steps but let the government at least take two," he added.
Kaul said the service-related issues that the Jammu and Kashmir administration has started addressing after Bhat’s killing were pending for the past 12 years. “Are we to seek resolution of service issues by spilling our blood? Kashmiri Pandits will not be taken for a ride again,” he said amid sloganeering by other protesting migrant employees.
Asked if the employees will resign from the service if the government did not agree to their demand for relocation, Kaul said, “We will announce our future action in due course of time. For the time being, we are organizing protests from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.” Kaul claimed that 70 percent of the 4,800 PM Package employees have fled Kashmir since Bhat’s killing.
“The government claims on providing accommodation to minority employees are all lies. Only 1,200 employees have been provided accommodation while the rest are living in rented accommodations,” he claimed. The press conference was also attended by PM Package employees’ representatives from Vessu, Mattan, and Baramulla.