Srinagar: With five civilians killed by terrorists in the last few days, including a Sikh and a Hindu after an identification parade in a government school, fear has gripped Kashmir’s minority communities.
Several families from these communities have even temporarily moved out to safer locations for the time being, ThePrint has learnt.
The atmosphere of fear is being fuelled by rumours that terrorists have drawn up a ‘hit list’, and many more could be targeted.
While the killing of Makhan Lal Bindroo (70), owner of Bindroo Medicate Pharmacy in Srinagar’s Iqbal Park Tuesday shocked many, the subsequent murders of a young schoolteacher Deepak Chand and principal Satinder Kour have had a ripple effect, because they were singled out and shot dead after being identified as non-Muslims by the terrorists Thursday at the Government Boys Higher Secondary school in Eidgah.
‘Return of 1990’
Speaking to ThePrint, Sanjay Tickoo, president of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, called it the “return of 1990”, the year which saw large migration of Pandits from the Valley.
Tickoo’s organisation represents over 800 Kashmiri Pandit families that chose to stay in the Valley at the height of militancy, bucking the trend of large-scale migration of Pandits after sustained targeting. Bindroo was also among those who chose to stay back in Kashmir and run his pharmacy, even at the peak of militancy in the 1990s, while most of his relatives left the Valley.
Tickoo added that such is the fear that about 75 Kashmiri Pandit families have temporarily moved out of Kashmir to safer locations like Jammu and other parts of the country where they have houses or relatives.
However, multiple sources that ThePrint spoke to suggested that many more have moved out temporarily.
Tickoo said a majority of those who have moved out are those who came back to Kashmir under the Prime Minister’s Rehabilitation Package for Pandits, as detailed by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai in the Rajya Sabha in July this year.
Other Kashmiri Pandits ThePrint spoke to also said there is a huge fear of the return of the 1990s’ scenario, although the union territory administration has asked the minorities not to panic.
While some prominent Pandit businessmen are also said to have moved out, some say they have been asked by the administration to take some precautions for the next few days.
Thursday, many minority establishments in Srinagar shut shop by 7 pm.
Most minority establishments in Srinagar, Kashmir today shut by 7pm. This is near heart of the city, metres away from Lalchowk. Need of the hour is for LG @manojsinha_ and all top officials to go on ground and be with Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs. Don’t let another exodus happen. pic.twitter.com/mrIlKCieCT
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) October 7, 2021
It’s not just the Hindus who are feeling the heat. Sikhs are also worried after Kour’s killing.
Harmeet Singh, a 39-year-old Kashmiri Sikh, told ThePrint: “There is no fear, but yes, we are concerned. The targeted killing of principal Kour has come as a shocker. It is like return to the 1990s.”
Mangal Singh, an elderly Sikh who came to pay his respects to Kour at her house, said he has heard that there is a list of targets, and more could be hit.
He also said the senseless targeting of a street vendor from Bihar was also a worrying development, referring to the killing of a non-local roadside Bhelpuri vendor in Lal Bazar of Srinagar, hours after Bindroo was killed.
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)