Fear looms over both communities after recent targeted killings of minorities in Kashmir by militants

There is a general feeling among the majority community that there would be more repression by the government against them in the wake of the recent killings

Photo credit : Mir Zeeshan
Photo credit : Mir Zeeshan

Gulzar Bhat

"It is not all only about the minorities, these killings have caused fear and trepidation among the majority community as well," says Mohammad Shafi, who runs a small restaurant in Srinagar.

Last week, in Srinagar, four members of the minorities comprising a non- migrant Kashmiri Pandit chemist, a non-local vendor, a Sikh teacher and her Pandit colleague were shot dead by militants.

While the killings created much fear among the minorities and spurred many of them to leave the Valley, the developments have left the majority Muslim community equally disturbed.

"It is not about ‘them’ but it is about ‘us’. We are being killed by both sides," Shafi says.

According to official data, at least 28 civilians were killed this year and of them 21 were from the Muslim community.

Another member from the majority community, who declined to be named, said that the killings would make the community more vulnerable to the attacks of zealot Hindu groups outside the Valley.

There has also been a general feeling among the majority community that there would be more repression by the government against them in the wake of recent killings.

Peoples Democratic Party spokesperson Mohit Bhan said that many innocent people now had face the heat of the administration in terms of arrests and detentions. "Now, there will be increase in pat-downs, patrolling and civilian killings in the name of collateral damage," Bhan said.

According to some newspaper reports, more than 500 people have been detained after the recent targeted killings.

Amidst the bedlam unleashed by these killings among both the communities, assurances have been coming in from the majority community.

During the Friday sermons, the speakers at minarets of many mosques gave out solidarity messages to the minorities. The clerics made fervent appeals to the members of the minority community to not leave the Valley.

Bhan said that he too had heard a few mosques making calls to the community to stand with minorities and there was a need to amplify such calls.

Sanjay Tickoo, president of Kashmir Pandit Sangresh Committee, a committee of non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits, said that appeals and assurances made by the Muslim clerics would serve as a potential confidence building measure for the minorities. He said that there was a need for more such measures by the majority community.

"We don't need police protection; we need the security of people living here. We are safe among the people", said Tickoo.

Tickoo said that only seven non-migrant families had left the Valley following the spate of recent killings.

Following the break out of militancy in the Valley in the 1990s, the region had witnessed a mass migration of Pandits and only 808 such families had stayed put.

However, in 2008, when the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a rehabilitation policies for the community, 3841 youth got jobs and moved back to the Valley.

“Of them, 1400 to 1600 have left for the Jammu after the recent attacks", said Tickoo.

He, however, was quick to add that they had not left permanently.

Javed Ahamd, a post graduate student, said that although the recent developments had caused a sense of deep unease among the minorities, it had also unsettled the majority community.

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