J&K: Fear Returns To The Valley
India Today|October 25, 2021
For the past fortnight, a Kashmiri Pandit social activist in Srinagar (name withheld for security concerns) has been living under police protection. A posse of policemen knocked on his door around midnight on October 5 and shifted him to a more secure location, a kilometre from his house. “They told me I was on the militants’ radar and needed to go with them,” he says.
Moazum Mohammad

Only a few hours earlier, militants had killed Makhan Lal Bindroo, a 68-year-old Kashmiri Pandit who owned a pharmacy in the Iqbal Park area of Srinagar. Bindroo, like the social activist, was among the 808 Kashmiri Pandit families that chose to stay behind when militancy in the 1990s forced a mass exodus of Hindus from the Valley.

Fear and déjà vu returned to the Valley this month as militants killed seven people— among them three Hindus and one Sikh woman—in a spate of targeted killings. The most gruesome one took place on October 7, when militants singled out two Hindu teachers— Supinder Kaur of Beerwah village in Budgam and Deepak Chand of Jammu— after checking everyone’s ID cards, and shot them inside the government boys’ higher secondary school in Srinagar’s Sangam area. “It was akin to the Doda and Rajouri massacres where people from a particular community were singled out and killed,” says Sanjay Tickoo, who heads the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), an organisation fighting for the rights of Kashmiri Pandits, and is among those who stayed behind despite the militancy.

According to data shared on the floor of the J&K assembly in 2010, the count of Kashmiri Pandits killed since the ’90s was 219; the KPSS puts the latest count at 677. More than 62,000 families, mainly Kashmiri Pandits, abandoned their homes, according to data from the home ministry. Some 40,000 of them now live in Jammu, 20,000 in Delhi and the remaining elsewhere in India.

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