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Kashmir: Protests Held as Fresh Violence Scares Minorities

Anees Zargar |
Members of the Sikh community raised slogans demanding justice for Supinder Kour while urging the authorities to investigate the fresh spate of civilian killings.
Sikh Jammu

Sikh mourners carrying the body of Supinder Kaur, a school principal, who was killed yesterday at her school.

Photo By Kamran Yousuf

Srinagar: Members of the Sikh community, including the family and relatives of Supinder Kour, a school principal killed along with a colleague in a militant attack in Srinagar, held a demonstration in the city on Friday demanding justice for the victims.

Hundreds of mourners carried out a rally from Kour's residence in Aloochi Bagh locality of Srinagar towards the civil secretariat, where they held a sit-in protest before carrying out the last rites of the victim.

Members of the community also raised slogans demanding justice for Kour. At the same time, many mourners urged the authorities to investigate the fresh spate of civilian killings.

In less than a week, seven civilians have been killed by suspected militants of The Resistance Front (TRF), believed to be an off-shoot of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group. Koul was shot dead earlier on Thursday along with another colleague Deepak Chand at a school in Srinagar's outskirts.

According to Inspector general of police (IGP) Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, as many as 28 civilians have been killed this year, including five persons belonging to local minority communities and two non-locals. The fresh spike in violence has triggered renewed concerns amongst these minority groups, prompting many to abandon their accommodations in the valley. Others have argued that they will not be attending their respective jobs and duties unless provided with security.

Satpal Singh, president of Gurudwara Prabandak Committee Budgam and a relative of Kour, said the group has written to Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha and appealed for a security cover.

“We do not want to leave this place, but we will not be able to attend to our duties unless we feel safe. Those who come from far-flung areas should get transferred close to their homes as the killings have happened in the heart of the city. There is no security in the city so imagine the state of things in the far-flung areas,” Singh said.

The All Kashmiri Migrant Employees Forum Kashmir has claimed that they are living in a state of extreme fear and panic. The members said they are “frightened” due to the recent targeted killings. “In view of the prevailing situation against Hindu community in Kashmir, you are requested that the said endangered population may be exempted of the duties till the situation returns to normal, and be a pivotal role player in our rescue,” the group said in a letter to the UT administration.

The situation remains tense due to the spike in violence while authorities have heightened security and kept the forces on alert across the valley. There has been an increase in the security checks around key localities and highways.

On Thursday evening, a 28-year-old youth Parvaiz Ahmad Gujjar was killed near a check-post in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district after CRPF personnel fired at his vehicle. Parvaiz, who died of gunshot wounds inside his car, leaves a wife and two young daughters behind.

The killing has drawn condemnation against the government and the security apparatus, with many accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government of “mishandling” the region.

“This appears to be the start of a knee jerk reaction to what has transpired during the last two days. The disproportionate force has been used by CRPF, which has resulted in this innocent civilian’s death. Will there be any action against the trigger-happy personnel?” People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti tweeted following Parvaiz's death.

At Kour’s funeral, a mourner Surinder Singh Channi said that the government has failed in its claim of restoring normalcy in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370, a decision BJP-led government carried out on August 5, 2019, despite opposition.

“We condemn all killings irrespective of which religion the victim belongs to. It is unfortunate that the government in Delhi has failed in their claims that everything will be normal after the abrogation of 370,” he said.

For many, the current situation is reminiscent of the 1990s and killings carried out in the Chittisinghpora massacre and Wandhama massacre. Another mourner told NewsClick that the authorities should investigate the matter and determine whether there is a “conspiracy to disturb communal harmony.”

In the wake of the killings, PDP workers held a protest at their headquarter in Lal Chowk and demanded resignation from LG Sinha.

“LG Sinha has been unsuccessful in providing security to people,” PDP spokesperson Suhail Bukhari during a presser before attempting to lead a protest rally. The police, however, thwarted the “unity march”.

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), led by incarcerated Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, while condemning the three killings, have reiterated their demand of “resolution to Kashmir through peaceful means.”

“APHC reiterates that a just resolution through peaceful means of the Kashmir conflict is the key to ending the bloodshed in all its manifestations and usher lasting peace- not the lull before every new storm for the people of Kashmir, that is trumpeted as peace in J&K by the rulers,” an APHC statement read.

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