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Kashmiri Pandits 'Preparing' For Mass Migration, Protests In Jammu Continue Over Teacher's Killing

School teacher Rajni Bala was shot dead on Tuesday in Jammu and Kashmir's Kulgam district.

A Kashmiri Pandits' protest in Jammu and Kashmir
A Kashmiri Pandits' protest in Jammu and Kashmir AP photo

A group of Kashmiri Pandits employeed under the Prime Minister's Package on Wednesday began preparations for "mass migration" out of Kashmir over the targeted killing of school teacher Rajni Bala, over which protests continue in Jammu region for the second day. 

The Kashmiri Pandits on Wednesday said they were meeting truck-owners to negotiate a rate for transporting their goods. Hours after Rajni was shot dead in Kashmir's Kulgam district where she was posted, a Kashmiri Pandits organisation gave a 24-hour ultimatum that they would migrate out of Kashmir en masse if the government did not relocate them to safer places during the period.

A representative of the organisation said, "We have come to fix the rate with truck-owners. Let's see if any decision comes from the government by this evening. If not, then we will migrate from here tomorrow."

A Kashmiri Pandit employee in Srinagar said, "We have decided that if the government did not take any concrete step for us (safety) within 24 hours, there will be mass migration again."

Rajni's killing follows the murder of 35-year-old Rahul Bhat last month in his office in Budgam district, following which Kashmiri Pandits had held widespread protests across the Valley and had made similar demands for relocation to safer places out of Kashmir and had threatened to resign en masse.

The Kashmiri Pandit employee quoted above said the target killing of Kashmiri Pandits is continuing and the community is now tired of making appeals with the government. 

He added, "We should be relocated so that we can be saved. Our delegation had met the LG earlier and we had asked him to save us. We are asking for temporary relocation for two to three years till the situation in the valley returns to normal. It is the same time frame put by IGP Kashmir for making Kashmir terrorism-free."

In Jammu region, protests continued for the second day at several places in Jammu, Samba, and Kathua districts against Rajni's killing, who was a native of Samba but was posted at a government school in Gopalpora in Kulgam. 

The protesters on Wednesday blocked the Jammu-Pathankot Highway in Samba and demanded dismissal of officers responsible for failing to transfer Bala to a safe place that resulted in her killing.  

Rajni's native Samba observed a complete shutdown to protest against the killing.

Calling Kashmir's Hindu population a "soft target", Jammu and Kashmir BJP chief Ravinder Raina, who visited the bereaved family in Samba and faced protest, said there is an urgent need to formulate a security plan for the safety of the community as Pakistani terrorists were targeting them constantly. 

Hundreds of protesters took out a rally toward the Jammu-Pathankot Highway and raised anti-government and anti-Pakistan slogans. They staged a sit-in on the highway, blocking the vehicular traffic and demanded dismissal of officers, especially that of Kulgam CEO, for turning down repeated requests of the couple and delaying Bala's transfer to Kulgam for months.

The protestors also raised slogans against Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha over the complete failure on the security front to protect the Hindus serving in government offices in the Valley and burnt an effigy of the administration.

Rajni was the second non-Muslim government employee to be killed in May. Last year too, similar targeted killings took place in Kashmir

On October 5, militants killed well-known chemist Makhan Lal Bindroo at in Srinagar, followed by the killing of a non-local roadside Bhelpuri vendor in the city. A day later, terrorists shot dead Deepak Chand, a school principal, and a female teacher named Satinder Kour inside a school in Srinagar, both of whom were isolated after checking their identity cards.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration led by Deputy commissioner Anuradha reached out to protesters to lift the blockade on the highway, but the agitated protesters continued their demonstration.  

Shattered by the death of his wife by terrorists minutes after he dropped her at the school, Raj Kumar had on Tuesday blamed the administration for turning a "deaf ear" to their repeated requests to transfer her in view of the targeted killings of Hindus in the Union territory.

Similar allegations were made over Bhat's killing last month, when his colleagues said that Bhat's family had made requests to officials seeking his transfer citing threats to his life, but their requests were ignored.

Raj Kumar and Rajni were transferred on Monday, just a day before the attack. Tuesday was supposed to be Bala's last day at her old school. 

Kumar said Hindus are soft targets in Kashmir and the administration should relocate them in view of the fear psychosis triggered in the wake of the selective killings by terrorists.

Meanwhile, the protesters told BJP's J&K chief Raina that their government led by LG Sinha has totally failed to protect Hindus in Kashmir. 

The protesters also tried to heckle him, but several BJP activists and cops intervened.

Former Samba MLA Yashpal Kundal said, "Hindus are being killed in Muslim majority Kashmir under the BJP rule. Twenty-two Hindus, including Kashmiri Pandits, Dogra Hindus, and outsiders, have been killed in the past and several injured by [bullet] shots." 

In Jammu city, BJP student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Dogra Front, Kashmiri Pandits Front and Bajrang Dal, also staged protests against the killing. 

(With PTI inputs)

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