Kashmir Valley is going through a new phase of violence – target killings. Except for some major events like the historic violent campaign against the local Kashmiri Pandits in 1989-90 and the mass killing of Kashmiri Sikhs in Chhattisingh Pura in 2000, the terrorist violence in Kashmir over past many decades has been mainly focused at killing Indian security forces. While the main purpose of the violence against the Kashmiri Hindus and the Kashmiri Sikhs was to achieve ethnic cleansing of the Valley during 1989-90 and later years, the killings of Indian security forces served the dual purpose of attracting international attention to separatism in Kashmir as well as to please terrorists’ promoters and paymasters sitting in Pakistan and other countries. But things have changed in a big way in the post-Article 370 era. Terrorists are now focusing on killing unsuspecting and helpless individual Hindus and Sikhs. Their victims now are Kashmiri Pandits who had returned to the Valley under rehabilitation package of the State Government; non-Kashmiri government employees who have been posted from Jammu region to the Valley; or poor labourers and workers from other States of India who found one or other petty job in Kashmir.
Shattering Dreams of Original Inhabitants From Returning Home
The purpose behind these target killings is to instil fear in the hearts of those Kashmiri Hindus who want to return to their lost homes in the Kashmir Valley and also to forestall the inflow of such workers, businessmen and entrepreneurs from the rest of India who find the prospects of enjoying same freedom of employment and business in J&K what Kashmiris have been enjoying across India since ages.
Since the beginning of this calendar year in January, at least 28 individuals have been killed already and the spate of violence seems unending. The new modus-operandi of lone wolf attacks has turned out quite attractive for the terrorist groups especially because the security agencies have been able to successfully neutralise most of terror groups in recent years and thereby making larger and organised attacks nearly impossible in the Kashmir Valley.
NC, PDP Against Bringing Back Hindus
Interestingly, all traditionally dominant separatists, terrorist groups and local politicians in the Valley have a vested interest in ensuring that the strategy of the new spate of lone wolf terror attacks on helpless individuals succeeds. On one hand, the ‘Gupkar Road’ lobby of Kashmiri politicians, led by former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, and their separatist supporters want to stop this new process of bringing back the Kashmiri Pandits to their ancestral homeland. They are trying to peddle this move as the Centre’s attempt to change the ‘demographic character’ of the State. On the other hand, the gun totting terrorists look at the new trend of returning Pandits and others from outside the State as the undoing of the ethnic and religious cleansing of Kashmir which they had achieved successfully after decades of killings and unrest in the Valley.
The 10 Hindus killed in 36 weeks in Kashmir
- On October 6, 2021, the terrorists shot dead 68-year-old Makhan Lal Bindroo, Kashmiri Pandit owner of the famous Bindroo Medical in Iqbal Park, Srinagar.
- On the same day October 6, 2021 another Hindu was killed, 56-year-old Virendra Paswan, a native of Bhagalpur district of Bihar who was residing in Alamgari Bazar Zadibal.
- On October 7, 2021, terrorists killed two teachers in a school in Srinagar. Principal Satinder Kaur and teacher Deepak Chand died after they were shot at point-blank range at the Government Boys Higher Secondary School in Idgah, Sangam in Srinagar.
- On October 16, 2021 another street vendor from Bihar who used to sell golgappa, 30 years old Hindu man Arbind Kumar Sah, was shot dead by a terrorist in Srinagar.
- On April 13, 2022 this year, a civilian named Satish Kumar Singh Rajput was killed in a targeted attack. He was fired upon by terrorists in the Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir, and he died after he was shifted to a hospital.
- On May 12, 2022 a Kashmiri Hindu youth Rahul Bhat was killed by militants in Budgam district. Rahul Bhat worked with the revenue department in the Tehsildar office at Chadoora in Budgam. When he was in the office on that day, terrorists had fired at him in the office premises.
- Burqa-clad terrorists had hurled a grenade inside a newly opened wine shop through the porthole window on May 17,2022 killing one and injuring three others. In the attack in north Kashmir’s Baramulla, one of the employees Ranjit Singh had lost his life.
- On May 31, 2022 in yet another targeted killing of a Hindu in Kashmir, 36-year-old Rajni Bala was shot dead by terrorists in Kulgam district’s Gopalpora area. She was shot outside the school by Islamic terrorists.
- On June 2, in another terror act of targeted killing in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Islamic terrorists shot dead a bank employee named Vijay Kumar in the Kulgam district on June 2, 2022.
(Input by – OPINDIA)
On August 16, Kashmiri terrorists entered a fruit orchard in Shopian and gunned down two Kashmiri Hindus who were engaged in routine work in the apple garden. One of the two victims, Sunil Kumar Bhat (48) died on the spot, whereas his cousin Pitambar Nath Bhat was struggling for his life in the hospital when last information came in. On May 12 this year, terrorists entered the Tehsil office in the Chadoora area of Badgam district and shot dead Rahul Bhat in his office chair in the presence of his office colleagues. Rahul was one of those Kashmiri Pandits who had been given a State Government job as a part of the package for those Pandit families who intend to return to their homeland after a three decades long exile. On 31st of same month, another Hindu Government teacher Rajni Bala (36) was shot dead in the Gopalpura of Kulgam. She was posted in Kashmir while her husband worked in another Government office at Samba in the Jammu region. Only two days after Rajni’s killing, Vijay Kumar, the young branch manager of the Ilaqai Dehati Bank in the Mohanpur colony of Kulgam, was killed by the terrorists. He had recently come from Hanumangarh of Rajasthan to work in this local rural bank.
It is interesting to note that target killing of Hindus and Sikhs in the Valley has started soon after the abrogation of Article-35A and neutralising of Article-370 in August 2020 started showing results on the ground a year later in 2021 in the form of a campaign for bringing back those Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley who were violently thrown out in 1989-90 period. The new economic scenario which promises external investments in new businesses and industry from across India and foreign lands too has also presented the inevitability of large inflow of businessmen, investors and workers from outside to J&K. All this goes against the agenda of the separatists, terrorists and their paymasters who have been dreaming of separating Kashmir from India and establishing the ‘Nizam-e-Mustafa’ (Islamic rule) here.
The efforts to halt this new process in the Kashmir Valley started with the gunning down of a famous chemist and a highly popular Hindu Kashmiri Pandit, Makkhan Lal Bindru, in his shop at Jehangir Chowk in the centre of Srinagar on October 5, 2021. He was one of those Kashmiri Pandits who had refused to leave the Valley even during the peak of anti-Pandit violence in 1989-90. On the very next day, a Bihari hawker, named Virendra Pawan, who was selling ‘Bhelpuri’, a popular Marathi quick-food, was shot dead at Madina Chowk of Lalbazar in Srinagar. And on the very next day on October 7, terrorists barged into the Government Boys Higher Secondary School at Idgah in Srinagar. They inspected identity cards of the entire staff, separated the Sikh lady Principal Supinder Kaur and another Hindu teacher Deepak Chand and gunned them down in front of students and teachers.
The message was clear. The Kashmiri terrorists shall not allow Pandits to return to their homeland and reclaim their properties, jobs, businesses and their traditional social-place in the Valley which belonged to them since centuries. Nor would they allow the Central and Union Territory governments to open the State, surely not the Valley, for ‘outsiders’ to settle or undertake any job or business – not even selling ‘Bhelpuri’. If the flight of Kashmiri Pandits and non-Muslim employees from the Valley is any indication, this campaign of separatist forces is proving successful. More than 4,000 non-Muslim employees of the UT Government, who belong to various areas of Jammu, have been on a long strike to demand their transfer and relocation out of the Valley. A large number of daily wage workers from Bihar, UP, Chhattisgarh and other States have already moved out to their respective home States. A large number of Pandits from all the seven transit camps, established by the State and Central Government for the returnee Pandits, are depleting fast. Reports from the two camps at Mattan and Vasu in the Valley say that except for 20 families, all others out of 300 families have already left the Valley.
The purpose behind these target killings is to instil fear in the hearts of those Kashmiri Hindus who want to return to their lost homes in the Kashmir Valley and also to forestall the inflow of such workers, businessmen and entrepreneurs from the rest of Indiae
It is interesting to note that the political leadership of Valley, especially the Gupkar Alliance led by Dr Farooq Adbullah’s National Conference and his staunch opponent Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP, too, have put its political weight behind the terrorists’ agenda of protecting the ethnically cleansed character of the Valley. Taking shield from the ongoing exercise of preparing a fresh electoral list of the State, these leaders announced strong opposition to the inclusion of new voters in the list. These new names include hundreds of thousands of those residents who have been living in the State for many generations but remained deprived of most of their civic rights, especially the voting rights because of Article-370. These communities include Hindu and Sikh refugees from erstwhile Pakistan since 1947 who had settled in Jammu; the Valmikis (sweepers and night-soil cleaners) whose more than three generations have been living in the State; and the Gorkha families who had settled in the State since over a Century as the soldiers in the Maharaja’s army. The Gupkar-Alliance has even threatened to approach the Supreme Court against new additions into the electoral list.
Unanimity Between Political Leadership And Terrorists
All these developments show that all terrorists as well as the political forces in the Kashmir Valley are on the same page and are bent upon maintaining the status quo, achieved through decades long violent process of ethnic cleansing of the Valley and stopping the integration of the State, especially the Valley into the national mainstream. They would use all means, including target killings on non-Muslims citizens of Kashmir or through the popular political and legal ways. This is neither human nor democratic. One should hope that these forces don’t succeed in their goal, lest it neutralises all gains of abrogating Articles 35-A and 370. That can push India into a Lebanon or Israel-like situation where people of the rest of India are pitted against the separatist forces of the Kashmir Valley. And this needs to be checked before it is too late.