By Aijaz Ahmad Turrey
On 14 February, 2019, a CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) convoy was moving from Jammu to Srinagar, when it was attacked by a suicide bomber with an explosive-laden vehicle near Awantipora, Pulwama, Kashmir. The attack resulted in the death of 49 CRPF personnel. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed. The attack has been condemned by various communities living in the country. But the aftermath of the attack has worsened the already disturbed situation as Kashmiris have been targeted in different parts of the country, especially in the north.
At least 15-20 female students from the Valley had to lock themselves in one of the hostel rooms in Dehradun after a mob surrounded the hostel. This incident happened a day after 12 students from Kashmir were thrashed in Dehradun by members of right-wing groups, including Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). The terrifying mob yielding sticks and stones called the Kashmiris ‘traitors’ and asked them to apologise for the attack. As slogans like ‘Hindustan ke gaddaron ko goli maro (Shoot the traitors of the country)’ were continuously raised, the girl students feared for their life.
Thursday’s militant attack in Pulwama has triggered violence in the Jammu region, with mobs torching vehicles and attacking Kashmiri Muslims living there. According to the police, at least 12 persons were injured in the violence. The protesters damaged nearly 80 vehicles, torching eight of them. The Darbar move (non-secretariat) employees federation on Saturday threatened to return to Kashmir if the government didn’t take measures to ensure their safety in Jammu. The state president of the association, Owais Wani, said that their families were not safe in Jammu as the quarters provided by estates department faced attacks by miscreants. Over 5000 Kashmiris including women and children have taken refuge at Makah Masjid Iqbal Market at Bhatandi. Some locals from Jammu, assisted by the police, visited different hotels and rented accommodations to move Kashmiris to safer place.
With sentiments riding high against terrorist attacks in Kashmir, over 100 Kashmiri students living in rented accommodations in Haryana’s Mullana village have been forced to leave after the district panchayat asked villagers to evict them. The village sarpanch issued an ultimatum to PG (paying guest) owners to oust Kashmiri students from accommodations within 24 hours. With tension mounting in the village, the Haryana Police are keeping a close watch and have assured Kashmiri students about safety. Though the authorities have asked students to return to respective PG accommodations, the students have chosen to remain inside the campus for around four days.
There are video footages from Bihar which showed Kashmiris facing a communal backlash. A group of Hindu right-wing activists flung the stock of garment-sellers, while threatening them to leave the state within 24 hours or be prepared to face the consequences. When a woman, apparently a local, objected to the behaviour of the mob, she was told that 45 CRPF men have been killed in Kashmir and Kashmiris would have to face the consequences.
The J&K High Court Bar Association Srinagar on Saturday appealed to the International Community, including the United Nations, Amnesty International, Asia Watch, other human rights organizations of the world and members of Indian civil society, to come to the rescue of the people of Kashmir from the brutalities being inflicted on them by the “ruthless communal and fanatic forces of Jammu and other places of India.” The Traders Association Lal Chowk, Srinagar called for Kashmir bandh on Sunday against the ‘attack’ on Kashmiris outside the Valley. Din Mohammad, president of the association said that the shutdown call has been given jointly by KTMF (Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation) and KCCI (Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries). The Centre on Saturday asked all states to ensure safety and security of the students and people from Jammu and Kashmir living in their areas in the wake of threats to them.
Why are Kashmiris being asked to leave as soon as possible? Why are anti-national slogans like ‘Desh kay ghadharo ko, goli maro salun ko’ being raised against them? What is their crime? This communal and ethnicity-based violence is dividing people. They are also the citizens of the country. They also have feelings and should be treated well like they do with 10 lakh in-migrants from different parts of the country.
Aijaz Ahmad Turrey, Ph.D. candidate, Centre for Studies in Economics and Planning, Central University of Gujarat. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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