In Kashmir, a new wave of targeted killings of civilians by unknown gunmen has created panic.
We may have left Kashmir if we didn’t have good relations with Muslims, say Kashmiri minorities in the valley, while urging the majority to reclaim their trust.
The recent spree of targeted killings of civilians by unknown gunmen has sparked panic in Kashmir.
The deadly timeline of civilian killings
Nine civilians have been killed in Kashmir since October 5, including six in Srinagar alone. There were three Muslims and six non-Muslims among them.
On October 2, two Kashmiri Muslims were killed in Srinagar. On October 5, at 7:30 PM, a famous medical shop owner and a Kashmiri Pandit, Dr Makhan Lal Bindroo, was shot in his shop.
Virender Paswan, a panipuri vendor from Bihar, was shot dead by suspected militants in Srinagar’s Lalbazaar area within an hour. Mohammad Shafi Lone, a cab driver, was killed in the Bandipora area of northern Kashmir after half an hour.
Two government teachers, Supinder Kaur and Deepak Chand, were shot dead within the premises of Govt Boys Higher Secondary School at Iddgah Sangam in Srinagar’s Safa Kadal on October 7, while residents were living in despair.
Supinder was from Srinagar’s Alochibagh neighbourhood, whereas Deepak was from Jammu and was staying in leased quarters here.
In yet another targeted attack, gunmen killed two non-local labourers and injured another on October 17 evening in Kulgam district of southern Kashmir, despite police and security officials launching a hunt for the perpetrators after announcing a high alert.
Kashmir Pandits say Muslim community makes them feel secure
“We were never threatened in Kashmir,” Ramesh Pal Singh, whose wife Surinder Kour, a college principal, and her colleague Depak Chand were shot dead, said while reiterating that they have a good relationship with the local Muslim population.
Sanjay Tickoo, who represents the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), a Kashmiri Pandit group, also says they have had good ties with Muslims.
“We could have left Kashmir if we didn’t have strong ties with Muslims. However, there is apprehension following the recent killings. As a result, it is the obligation of Muslims to reclaim Kashmiri minorities’ trust,” Tickoo said in a chat with a local news outlet.
Tickoo suggests that Imams should declare in mosques that no civilians would be killed in Kashmir and that such killings will not be condoned. This, Tickoo says, will boost the confidence of Kashmiri minorities and restore their faith in Muslims.
It was because of the majority community of Muslims that 808 Kashmiri Pandits did not leave Kashmir in the 1990s when the situation was much worse, comparatively, Tickoo observed.
Targeted killings a plot to divide people: APSCC Chairman Jagmohan Raina
Chairman of the All-Parties Sikh Coordination Committee, Jagmohan Singh Raina, opines that the targeted civilian killings are part of a plot to drive a wedge between different communities.
“Some individuals try to divide us and take advantage of the circumstances,” Raina said, adding that all communities are united in their resolve to protect the unprecedented communal harmony.
Raina remarks that there is a level of communal peace in the valley that has no precedent anywhere else in the world. “People of various faiths co-exist peacefully and makes us feel secure here,” he expressed.
Muslims outnumber civilians killed in Kashmir this year
So far this year, 30 civilians have been killed in Kashmir, according to the available statistics. There were 21 Muslims and 9 non-Muslims among them.
Meanwhile, local political leaders including PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, and the Congress party have also advised Kashmiri Pandits not to leave the Valley, while blaming the administration for the deterioration of the situation.