In a small office at Amira Kadal Gurdwara in Srinagar, some Sikhs gathered to hammer home a point after the targeted attacks on the members of the minority community in Kashmir: That they were feeling unsafe in Kashmir.
The Sikh employees, working across various private and government positions, decided to suspend work while several Kashmiri Hindus moved out of the Valley to other parts of India. “After the attacks, it is the responsibility of the authorities to provide security to us,” said Sandeep Singh, a Rainwari resident.
After the attacks, the Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (GPC) said that the Sikh employees will not report at work until adequate security arrangements are made. The attacks have triggered migration of even those Kashmiri Hindus, who had chosen to stay here besides those who moved here later on deputation.
President of GPC, Budha Singh, said that the Sikh employees are feeling unsafe to report to work. “ If they could carry out an attack in Srinagar, they could do the same in other parts of Kashmir like Kupwara or south Kashmir. No employee will report to work at this rate,” he said. Budha Singh said that there will be at least 4,000 employees who would shun work.
These attacks have forced the authorities to reassess the security situation while they also triggered a fresh wave of migration of Hindus to Jammu, something which has not been witnessed since the onset of militancy in the 1990s.
Late last night in a gunfight in the nearby area of Methan in Srinagar, militants managed to escape from the place. In another encounter last evening, one militant of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was killed in Srinagar but a bullet hit a senior government official’s vehicle while another pierced the window of a Sikh family’s home in Tulsi Bagh area of Srinagar, which largely houses bureaucrats and pro-India politicians.
A family member who didn’t wish to be named said a bullet hit one of the windows, following which a large number of police personnel and paramilitary forces lined up the roads even as authorities said that the stray bullet was from a nearby gunfight and not another militant attack.
Police tweeted yesterday that one militant was killed while another managed to escape in a gunfight that broke out after militants fired on Srinagar Police personnel. The police also said that the slain militant was identified as Aqib Bashir Kumar of Trenz Shopian and was affiliated with the Lashkar-e-Taiba outfit.
Due to the deterioration in the security situation in Kashmir, most of the nearly 4,000 Kashmiri Hindus employed in different government jobs have suspended work and moved to the Hindu majority region of Jammu. A number of government employees posted in Srinagar packed their bags at the Kashmiri Hindu transit accommodation at Sheikhpura in Budgam to leave Kashmir.
A teacher working in the education department said that he could leave the job. “I have decided to move to Jammu as the security situation remains grim here," he said adding that he hasn’t stepped out from the transit accommodation since the killing of two teachers of a minority community at a school in Srinagar. In the last one week, four members of the minority community including a famous Kashmiri Pandit pharmacist, a Sikh teacher and a non-local street vendor have been killed here.
President of Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, Sanjay Tickoo, said that there are at least 60 to 70 families of Kashmiri Hindus who have migrated from Srinagar in the past few days. He said that families have migrated to Jammu, but hoped that the situation would improve and “ it will only be a temporary migration.” “ The families which have migrated are those who had chosen to stay here in the 90s,” he said.
The attacks on the members of minority communities have stepped up in the past month and began after the abrogation of Article 370, which stripped the region of its semi-autonomous status and now allows non-state residents to buy land and other properties here. These measures have been opposed by several pro-India and separatist groups in Kashmir. The Hurriyat Conference in a recent statement has stressed the need for dialogue to “resolve the Kashmir issue.”
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