Militants attack civilians in Kashmir, sparking fear of return to violence past
Avinash Bhat, 43-year-old teacher posted outside Srinagar, the capital of the region, said he did not left his home in 20 days.
“My daughter not allow me to go outBhat said. community representative. “She’s afraid that I might be killed too.”
The protests started after killing of Rahul Bhat (no relative of the teacher), 35-year- old Indian shot down in government office in central Kashmir last month. Pandits say they feel trapped between militants targeting them for their faith and government who takes advantage of their plight for political benefit.
Kashmir is controversial region in Himalayas, with control is divided between archrivals India and Pakistan. The militants, some backed by Pakistan, are leading an insurgency that has been going on for decades. against Indian rule. Dozens of thousands of The Pandits were forced to flee Kashmir during the peak of violence in 1990s.
In May, an Indian Army commander described the recent killings of civilians as result of “disappointment” of militants who strive to keep “terrorism alive” in in valley.
“If we leave [Kashmir] againgovernment claim of normalcy will fall apart,” Bhat said. “We understand that we are part of of optics. But we can’t sacrifice ourselves for anyonex politics”.
Under the Hindu nationalist government of Modi, Pandits often found themselves in political focus. Critics say that Modi and his party used by the community tragic history misgive of Indian Muslims, country’s largest minority, justify militarization of Kashmir.
In its 2014 election manifesto, the Modi Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, pledged to promote the return of Pandits ‘to the ground of their ancestors with full dignity, security and secure livelihoods”.
But life was hard for those who moved to Kashmir in years since then, despite assurances from the authorities in Delhi. Most live in close government neighborhoods are heavily guarded. But that didn’t stop the killings, many of that have occurred in the workplace.
BUT software engineer who moved to Kashmir in 2015 take government Job said he was looking for buy to land build his dream house. Now he can’t wait to get out. He said on condition of anonymity for fear that he might be targeted.
government It has “failed to protect our lives,” said the 36-year-old father of two, who packs up leave if government not move his family to safety.
Civilian killings were on in rise because the last yeara, the victims are local Kashmiri Muslims and migrant workers from other regions. of India. Many think that violence has its roots in contradictory decision abolish Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status in 2019 – A step is needed, the message says, to end violence and corruption.
What followed instead there was acceleration. India arrived in additional security forces, detained dozens of people and cutting lines of communication. Since then local elections have not been held and India has been accused of of Violation of an individual’s rights.
Voices from Kashmir: Inside India year- long suppression
“2019 was touted as a panacea. Once we do this, everything will be fixed. This clearly did not happen,” said Ankur Datta, a sociologist at the University of South Asia. in Delhi and author of book on bias of Kashmiri Pandits.
community “caught in political no man’s land” with uncertain future, he said. “Tragic situation for a people with tragic history”.
Dozens of families left in region in October after killing of famous businessman who ran a pharmacy. Among them was Sunny Rayna, 32, government engineer in Cockernag.
“We came back how government assured our safetyRayna said. “But nothing changed here.”
Bhat, the teacher, decided to quit his government job if the authorities try to keep him family in Kashmir force.
“Which of what kind of life is this if we are not free? he asked breathlessly up. “Feels like we were put in jail.”
Masih reported from Chennai.