(Eds: Recasting overnight story)
Jammu/Srinagar, Oct 27 (PTI) Authorities in South Kashmir's Shopian attempted to put on a brave face by claiming no exodus of Kashmiri Pandits had taken place from the district but members of the minority community, who have since been camping in Jammu, ruled out having any plan to return to the Valley.
While a verified Twitter handle of the Information and Public Relations department of Shopian claimed that the news about leaving of "Kashmiri non-migrant Hindu population" was "baseless", Ashwani Kumar Bhat, whose brother Puran Krishan Bhat was gunned down by terrorists on October 16, told reporters in Jammu that he has migrated and will never return to the valley.
The authorities claimed on Twitter that "proper and robust security arrangements have been kept in place by the administration in the village. Even at other pockets of Kashmiri non-migrant Hindu habitations and villages, similar security arrangements are in place".
Puran Krishan Bhat was killed by terrorists in Choudharygund area of Shopian at a place which had a minority police picket at 20 metres and an army camp nearby.
The deceased's brother said, "We have migrated from there. I will never return. I swear by my children, I will not return till the last breath of my life".
Pointing towards his children, he said neither he will return to Kashmir nor allow his children to go there. "I have one hundred kanals (five hectares) of land there but I will never go back. Will I go there to die?" he asked.
Bhat, who saw his brother dying in front of his eyes, said he will quit his government job but will not go back. "I do not need anything", he said.
Bhat took a dig at the administration over their statement of deployment of police guards to protect them and said "when the killing of Sunil Kumar took place in Chatigam, we went to the SP of Shopian - who is a woman and Major Sahib (of the nearby army camp). We urged them to keep visiting our village - one time a day. Nobody helped us-- nobody came here. We have not seen police guards -they themselves live in fear".
The deceased's cousin said the administration is issuing statements about guards deployed in the village for security. "If they are issuing statements about guards, we should have seen them (visiting our village)".
"We even do not know whether they (guards) have come for our security. They never came out", he said.
The brother was seen airing his views on various television channels.
Like him, another Choudharygund resident, who did not wish to be named, said he has left the harvested apples in the compound of his house as life is precious.
"God saved me as they wanted to hit me too. They had come back to my school a few days ago, but I was not there", he said.
Another woman, who also shifted to Jammu, said they were living in fear.
The nephew of the deceased said while authorities were making claims that adequate security arrangements had been made for the minorities, the "situation was totally different on the ground".
"The police personnel posted on security duty always sat inside (their picket). Had they been outside, they would have been able to see the people. Ask anyone -- ask Kashmiri Muslims, ask Hindus living there -- if they had seen them (cops)?" he said.
As terrorists carried out a number of targeted killings recently, 10 Kashmiri Pandit families have left their village in the Shopian district out of fear and reached Jammu.
The residents of Choudharygund said the recent terrorist attacks have triggered a fear psychosis among the Pandits who lived in Kashmir through the most difficult period of terrorism in the 1990s and did not leave their homes.
"Ten families comprising 35 to 40 Kashmiri Pandits have migrated out of our village due to the fear psychosis," a resident of Choudharygund village who faced a death threat recently told PTI. PTI AB MIJ SKL CK NSD