Civil movement

Non-Muslim Kashmiris seek to build a civil movement against radicalization in the valley

The All-India Kashmiri Samaj will reach out to civil society organizations to create an atmosphere conducive to community harmony in the valley which has seen selective killings over the past few months

As many as 14 Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus have been killed in the valley since Article 370 was repealed in 2019. File photo: PTI

The All-India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS), it has been reported, will reach out to civil societies in Kashmir in a bid to build social resistance against the recent upsurge in killings of minority Hindus in the valley.

Rahul Bhat, a 35-year-old Kashmiri pundit employed in the revenue department, was killed in his office in Budgam by two pistol-wielding terrorists on Thursday, sparking fears that prompted Union Territory PM package workers to threaten massive resignation. Bhat was the latest victim of ongoing selective assassinations in Union territory.

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As many as 14 Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus have been killed in the valley since the repeal of Article 370 in 2019, according to data presented by the Union Home Ministry to the Raja Sabha last month.

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“TRF Behind the Murders”

AIKS President Ramesh Raina said the security situation in the valley has seen a massive deterioration over the past six months, especially after the emergence of local militant groups such as the Resistance Front (TRF). , an offshoot of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The TRF was formed after Section 370 was removed in August 2019.

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Unlike other terrorist groups spawned by Pakistan’s deep state, the TRF’s nomenclature is deliberately kept non-Arab to give the impression that it is a non-Jihadist organization formed to defend the interests of Kashmir. , which many in the Valley believe has been undermined. by removing its special category status, experts said.

The team is tasked with carrying out targeted assassinations of Hindu minorities and non-locals.

The murders cast a shadow over the tourism industry in the valley, which was experiencing a boom after years. In April, nearly 2.8 lakh tourists visited the valley, the highest April in three decades, according to official estimates. The first week of May alone saw an influx of 33,000 tourists. Official data reveals that 6.6 lakh tourists visited Kashmir last year, bringing the hospitality industry back to life after it remained closed following the repeal of Section 370 in August 2019 , followed by the pandemic.

“Need for de-radicalization”

Raina said that to improve the situation in the valley, the government must “evolve a de-radicalization agenda” to scuttle the growing influence of Wahhabism, a dogmatic form of exclusion from Islam.

The de-radicalization process should involve the local people and civil society institutions in Kashmir, he said over the phone. “The majority community in the valley should be made aware of the trap of such radicalization and its wider ramifications so that they raise their voices against it,” Raina said.

He said that, for its part, AIKS will also try to reach out to civil society organizations to create an atmosphere conducive to community harmony. “There are many moderate Muslim individuals and groups. Many work in the field. But unfortunately, they also run the risk of being physically harmed if they raise their voices (against radicalisation). We must therefore be extremely careful in our awareness-raising actions,” he added.

AIKS and other Kashmiri Pandit organizations will meet on Sunday to take stock of the situation in the valley. “This time, the most important thing for us is to ensure the safety of the residual Kashmiri pandits in the valley as well as the PM package employees,” the AIKS chairman said.

The PM Package Schema

In 2009, during the tenure of Prime Minister of Manmohan Singh, a comprehensive package of Rs 1,618.40 crore was granted for the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in the valley. Under this program, the then Congress-led UPA government announced the recruitment of 3,000 displaced young Kashmiri Pandits from various government departments in the valley.

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The BJP-led NDA government led by Narendra Modi introduced a similar package in 2015, announcing 3,000 additional state government jobs for Kashmiri migrants. Bhatt, who was killed on Thursday, was one of 6,000 youths recruited under the PM package.

His assassination has sown fear among these employees who are now demanding a secure posting outside the Valley.

All-PM Package Employees Forum sent a en masse resignation letter from more than 350 PM package employees to J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on May 13, a day after Bhat’s murder. A copy was also marked in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Union Home Office.