Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits in mass ‘resignation’
Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits employed by the government faced tear gas shells on Friday when they held protests in the Valley, claiming to have submitted “mass resignation” letters and saying they felt “unsafe” and wanted relocation to Jammu.
The Pandit protests, an embarrassment for the government and unprecedented during the three decades of militancy, came after militants killed Rahul Bhat, a Pandit employee, at his Budgam office on Thursday.
Hundreds of Pandit employees protested at many places in the Valley, chanting slogans against the Union Territory administration, BJP, Centre and the militants. Security forces lobbed tear-gas shells, crossing a red line and targeting a “nationalist” community angered by a militant killing.
Several Muslims joined the protesters, who accused the Centre of using them as “cannon fodder”. The government had employed hundreds of Pandits to incentivise the community’s return to the Valley. Militants began to target them after the 2019 scrapping of the special status.
Aditya Raj Koul, a Pandit journalist based in Delhi, tweeted a resignation letter and claimed that “mass resignation (letters) by more than 350 Kashmiri” Pandit employees had been sent to the lieutenant governor as “they don’t feel safe”. The four-page letter had 98 signatures.
Kashmir News Trust, a local news agency, said another letter was sent to the Union home ministry saying the employees were left “with no option but to give en masse resignation… to save our lives.”
The letter spoke of “dejection (at) the policies of the administration and subsequent failure of providing a sense of security to all Kashmiri Pandit minorities serving in the Valley for the last 12 years”. It censured “custodians, who promised us to provide a dignified and honourable return”.