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'Transit camp walls turned into electric fences'

Pandit employees leave Valley amid spate of targeted killings

Organisation says electric fences are being used to prevent flight of community
A Kashmiri Pandit family returns to the Jagti Migrants Camp in Jammu on Friday.
A Kashmiri Pandit family returns to the Jagti Migrants Camp in Jammu on Friday.
PTI picture

Muzaffar Raina   |   Srinagar   |   Published 04.06.22, 01:28 AM

The BJP’s Pandit face on Saturday said a third of the migrant Pandit employees in Kashmir had fled with their families and more planned to leave, amid allegations that the authorities’ efforts to avert an exodus included electric-fencing some of the community’s colonies.

BJP leader Ashwini Chungroo’s assertion about the large-scale migration came on a day the Kashmir Pandit Sangarsh Samiti, which represents those Pandits who never migrated from the Valley, requested the high court to have the government relocate to Jammu all Kashmiri (non-migrant) religious minorities.


The Samiti’s “representation” to the chief justice claimed the administration had blocked the roads, converted the walls of some of the Pandits’ transit camps into electric fences, or simply locked their gates to prevent the residents from leaving.

The Jammu-based Chungroo, who is in charge of the Jammu and Kashmir BJP’s political feedback department, said he believed that some 2,000 migrant Pandit employees had already reached Jammu with their families, panicked by the targeted militant killings since early May.

This would make up one-third of the nearly 6,000 Pandits employed in the Valley since 2010 under the Prime Minister’s return and rehabilitation package.

Chungroo’s numbers, if true, would suggest the government’s efforts to coax or coerce the Pandits into staying back are not working. Chungroo said the Pandit demonstrations demanding relocation to Jammu had almost stopped in Kashmir, arguing this was proof that they had left or planned to leave by themselves.

“In my opinion, 2,000 families have already reached Jammu. They have come today, yesterday or the day before yesterday. Despite the restrictions, people are coming. They are coming on their own. The administration has failed,” Chungroo told The Telegraph.

The government has not reacted formally to reports of the fresh migration, although officials have privately been downplaying the numbers.

Chungroo said his community could not be used as “sacrificial lambs” to showcase secularism or peace in Kashmir.

Told that the Centre was dead against relocating the Pandits from Kashmir as that would hurt the BJP politically, Chungroo said that if such thinking existed, it was wrong and the focus should be on saving the Hindus in Kashmir.

“You cannot leave Hindus to the wolves…. Then what is the difference between what happened in 1990 and now?” he said.

Chungroo said the situation was worse compared with the 1990s, when the Valley witnessed a mass migration of Pandits.

“They (the militants) had a distinct identity that time, wore a particular (traditional Kashmiri) attire and had (long) guns. Today they (militants) are common people, who easily mingle with people and use short guns (handguns),” he said.

“Their network and intelligence has improved a lot. They have the names of all the people (targets) — where they work, their phone numbers and addresses.”

Chungroo said the government should relocate the migrants to Jammu to save their lives.

“There is no other option left. You have the IGP (inspector-general of police) saying it would take them two to three years to wipe out the militancy. The DGP (director-general of police) says that it’s not possible to provide security to every individual,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s return and rehabilitation policy for Pandits does not provide for the beneficiaries’ transfer outside Kashmir.

Chungroo criticised the policy, under which Pandits are given government jobs and accommodation to lure them back. He regretted that his party had continued a policy launched in 2010 by the then National Conference-Congress government in the state and the Congress-led UPA at the Centre.

He said he had opposed the policy tooth and nail, for he knew that a permanent solution to the Pandit problem would remain elusive until militancy had been finished off.

“That’s why I say the Valley should be handed over to the army to launch an operation to finish off the militancy,” he said.

Asked to elaborate, he merely said that Kashmir needed a Punjab-style anti-militancy operation.

Kashmir has witnessed nine targeted killings since early May — those of a Pandit government employee, four non-Kashmiri Hindus and four Muslims. The Pandits have hit the streets almost daily for the past three weeks pressing for relocation to Jammu.

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