Kashmiri Pandits have been protesting and demanding relocation from the valley till the security situation improves. Hundreds of employees and their families have shifted to Jammu. This has seriously affected quality education in the Valley
Since the emergence of armed conflict in Kashmir, the valley has undergone several phases of violence, resulting in massive human loss. In the ongoing conflict, many Kashmiri Hindu pandits have lost their lives forcing the community to flee the valley in 1990 due to the targeted killing of their community members by an unknown gunman.
As the past horrifying pictures were still afresh, the new spate of targeted killings of Kashmiri pandit teachers, sent shockwaves among its community members. After the abrogation of Article 370, which gives special status to Kashmir from the rest of the Indian states, a new spate of killings has been witnessed and dozens of Hindu pandits have been killed, many among them teachers.
Over the last two years, the unknown gunman has killed dozens of Hindu Kashmiri Pandits, most of them working in education departments and were posted in government schools.
On 7 October 2021, when armed assailants barged into the government-run boys’ Higher Secondary School in downtown Eidgah locality and killed the Sikh Principal and Pandit teacher identified as Supinder Kour, a Sikh who worked as the principal of the school in downtown Srinagar where the incident took place, and Deepak Chand, a Kashmiri Hindu pandit teacher.
Abdul Rahim, 32, a Kashmiri Government teacher with a name changed, told the Firstpost that the armed militants entered their school and they asked them about their names. “When they entered the principal’s chamber, we heard gunshots. We came to know they killed our principal mam. Within no time, I found Deepak, a Pandith teacher lying on the ground with blood gushing out,” Rahim told First Post.
The “Resistance Front,” according to DGP Dilbag Singh, was behind the killings.
The organisation’s founding cadre came from established organisations like Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Tayyabba.
“The TRF is based in Karachi. We will shortly burst this cross-border nexus very soon,” DGP said.
As the target killings of Kashmiri intensified Pandits, many left Kashmir over the last few months. The migration of Pandits and their killings has taken a heavy toll on the minds of Kashmiri students which resulted in the suffering of students in the Valley.
The killing of Pandit teachers and their migration has badly affected the education of Kashmiri students. Many students in Srinagar are eagerly waiting for their arrival again in the schools where they were posted.
In Srinagar’s Nandpora, where four Hindu pandit teachers have been teaching for the last many years. However, with the spate of new fresh killings by the militant group The Resistance Front (TRF), four pandit teachers have got transferred themselves from this school, leaving the students’ education concerned.
“In Srinagar’s Nandpora School, we have 120 students with four teachers only. Some pandits teachers transferred themselves due to target killings by militants. We request the education department to bring them back,” Ghulam Hussain, 31, a teacher at Nandpora school, told the FirstPost.
Nadeem Ahmed, 16, a student, says that many Migrant Pandits were working as teachers in the education department but after a few killings, they got themselves transferred back to Jammu. Now schools are suffering because the department couldn’t fill these gaps. “The Hindu pandit teachers are intelligent. We miss their absence badly,” Nadeem told the Firstpost.
As the targeted killings of Pandit teachers intensified, The government ordered the transfer of 177 Kashmiri Pandit teachers assigned to Srinagar to safer regions. The measures were taken by union Home Minister Amit Shah’s high-level meeting to assess the security situation in the unrest-plagued Union Territory following a series of attacks on the Kashmiri Pandit minority and migrant labourers.
Mukesh Chandan (name changed), 41, a Pandit teacher, told the Firstpost that instead of accepting their demands to relocate them to Jammu, or any other safer place outside Kashmir, the negligence of the government has made them vulnerable to terrorists.
Rabiya Mushtaq,15, a class ten student told the Firstpost that the Pandit teachers in her school produce fruitful results in board exams. “It’s the responsibility of the Government to bring them back so that the future of students won’t get affected.”
She says that all the pandit teachers are an indispensable important part of teaching. “They not only listen but also guide and mentor their students under all circumstances. From my personal experience, they can help out and shape academic goals. They never do discrimination based on sects,” Rabiya told the Firstpost.
Nikita, (name changed) told Firstpost that there is no safe place in the Valley. We are being asked to do our job under the shadow of a gun, which is not possible in the current situation.
Rahul Bhat was killed in the office of the magistrate. Which is considered a safer and more secure place, said Nikita. “We are demanding our relocation till the situation improves in the valley and we are going to start intense agitation if our demands are not fulfilled,” she added.
Since the killing of Rahul Bhat on 12 May, 2022, Kashmiri Pandits have been protesting and demanding relocation from the valley till the security situation improves. They have not joined work, and hundreds of employees and their families have shifted to Jammu. The protesting employees had sought Lt Governor Manoj Sinha’s intervention in the matter.
Sinha has shown full sympathy for the employees and asserted that the J&K administration is fully prepared to help them and ensure their safety. However, Sinha adds that the minority employees should also keep in mind that they are employees of the Kashmir division. Like a district cadre employee of Poonch cannot come to Jammu, those of the Kashmir division, too, cannot be posted here.
Following Sinha’s remarks, Kashmiri pandits reacted that it would be best for the government to sack them as they would not rejoin their services in the Valley in the absence of proper security after a Lashkar-e-Taiba affiliate published hit lists of Kashmiri Pandit employees. The protesters have accused the government of “step-motherly treatment” saying their lives are more important than jobs,”.
In the first week of December, The Resistance Front (TRF) – an offshoot of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group, issued a threat to 57 Kashmiri Pandit employees working as teachers under the Prime Minister’s Rehabilitation Package (PMRP) in the Valley.
The threat letter naming these employees has triggered massive fear among the Kashmiri pandits, and the students in Kashmir also suffer due to the absence of Pandit teachers in their schools.
Irshad Hussain and Mubashir Naik are independent Journalists, they tweet at @Irshad55hussain and @Sule_khaak respectively. Views expressed are personal.
This article originally appeared on https://www.firstpost.com/ and was reproduced here with permission