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Kashmiri Pandits stage protests after targeted killing in Shopian

A Kashmiri Pandit was shot dead by militants in Chaudhary Gund area

Kashmiri Pandit employees block Jammu-Poonch highway during a protest | PTI Kashmiri Pandit employees block Jammu-Poonch highway during a protest | PTI

Protests were held at several places in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday over the killing of a Kashmiri Pandit, Puran Krishan Bhat by militants in Shopian.

Bhat was on the lawn of his house at Chaudhary Gund when he was attacked. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors declared him dead.

Security forces have reached the crime spot and cordoned off the area.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Kashmir, Sujit Kumar, who is also the in-charge of South Kashmir Range, said the initial investigation suggests only one militant was involved in the killing. “Once things become clear, more details will be shared,” he said.

Kumar said if any security lapse is found on the part of the security guards or any official in charge of the area, action will be taken. He also informed that the Kashmir Freedom Fighter (KFF), proxy name of a militant outfit, has claimed responsibility of the attack.

As reports of the targeted killing of Bhat spread, Kashmiri Pandits working under the PM Package in Kashmir staged protest at Budgam. They shouted slogans against the administration and demanded action against the culprits.

The PM Package employees had threatened to leave Kashmir in May after the killing of Rahul Bhat at tehsil office in Chadoora in Budgam. He was working under the PM package. 

The  PM Package employees are Kashmiri Pandits who migrated in the 90s but returned to Kashmir after being provided a government job. At least 6,000 migrant Kashmiri Pandits are working in Kashmir under the package. Rahul Bhat’s killing was followed by the killing of a bank manager from Rajasthan and a teacher from Jammu’s Samba in Kulgam in south Kashmir. 

These killings had sparked fear among Pandits living and working in Kashmir, prompting many of them to flee to Jammu. The PM Package employees had staged protests and demanded relocation and even refused to join duties.

The government then ordered job postings close to their place of residence in district headquarters and also expedited their promotions.

On Saturday, protests were also held in Jammu by migrant Pandits.

Kashmiri Pandits and migrant workers have come under increased attack from the militants after the revocation of  Article 370 that had barred outsiders from settling in Kashmir.

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