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J&K: Pandit Group Urges Muslim Clerics to Oppose Targeted Killings

Anees Zargar |
The KPSS also appealed to the Kashmiri Pandit community – based in India or across the world – to avoid politics and join the protest.
J&K: Pandit Group Urges Muslim Clerics to Oppose Targeted Killings

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI

Srinagar: Members from the minority Kashmiri Pandit community on Monday urged the religious scholars and clerics of the majority Muslim community to raise their voices against targeted killings in Jammu and Kashmir.

The president of Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS) Sanjay Tickoo told NewsClick that it is the responsibility of the Muslim majority to safeguard the ethos that many say has been threatened by the surge in violence in the aftermath of the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A in August 2019.

The KPSS, a prominent body representing Kashmiri Pandits who stayed back in the valley instead of migrating outside, asked Muslim clerics and the majority community in the region to condemn the killings by suspected militants.

“The religious clerics must raise awareness amongst the youth of Kashmir about Islam. Whether it is a religion that says killing even one innocent is like killing entire humanity or is it permissible to kill anyone in the name of Jihad,” Tickoo said.

Tickoo, however, also appealed to the Kashmiri Pandit community – based in India or across the world – to avoid politics and join the protest.

Tickoo’s appeal comes two days after unidentified gunmen shot and killed a Kashmiri Pandit, identified aPuran Krishan Bhat, in South Kashmir’s Shopian district while he was on his way to an apple orchard. This is the second killing of a member of the Pandit community this year. There has been an uptick in violence in Jammu and Kashmir, especially with attacks targeting members from the minority community, non-locals, police officers and members of the Panchayat Raj, raising concerns about the overall security situation.

The KPSS president added that the Muslim majority of Kashmir should hold protests in their own vicinities to condemn the killings.

“I am not asking the Muslim majority to take out marches to the city centre. But they must carry out peaceful demonstrations wherever they live to send a message against the minority killings. The women folk and children should also be part of it. The children should come out and interact with our children to better understand our issues,” he said.

Pertinently, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) had expressed “shock and grief” over Bhat’s killing. In its statement, the APHC denounced the killing and said that every life lost in this manner is “painful and sad”.

Saturday’s killing again led to a series of protests that continued on Sunday. Many have been living in fear since May when a revenue official Rahul Bhat was shot dead by suspected militants inside his office in central Kashmir’s Budgam.

There have been more than two dozen civilian killings this year so farwhile 41 were killed last year and as many as 37 in 2019. Bhat is the sixth Kashmiri Pandit to have been killed by suspected militants since 2019, according to official data that puts the total number of civilian killings over 120 since that year.

Unverified statements from militant outfits, including The Resistance Front (TRF) that is believed to be an offshoot of Lashkar e Toiba (LeT), show that they have vowed to attack non-locals or anyone accused of being close to the Narendra Modi-led central government or security forces.

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament and president of National Conference Farooq Abdullah accused the New Delhi government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of mishandling the region and ignoring the ground situation.

“It (targeted killings) will not stop until justice is delivered. They (government) used to say that the killings are happening due to Article 370. Now there is no 370, why are people still dying. Who is responsible,” Abdullah said.

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