Package employees continue protest, reiterate relocation demand

Package employees protesting at Press Club Jammu on Saturday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
Package employees protesting at Press Club Jammu on Saturday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, June 25: Hundreds of Prime Minister package employees posted in Kashmir Valley staged a massive demonstration in front of Press Club here, today urging Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Singh-led administration to accept their demand to relocate them outside of Valley at an earliest.
The protesters assembled under the banner of ‘All Migrant Employees Association Kashmir’ outside the Jammu Press Club and said that they reject the Government’s proposal to relocate Pandits in safe zones within the Valley as the threat perception looms large there.
The protesting employees with banners and pla-cards in their hands reading “Relocate us outside Kashmir as we are not bonded laborers”. The protestors including male and female employees shouted slogans in support of their single point demand of their relocation outside Valley till the situation limps to total normalcy in Kashmir. They also demanded that till date they be attached with Relief Organisation at Jammu instead of making them scapegoats.
They protestors said there is no security of their life and limb in the Valley where militants have even entered the Government offices and killed the employees belonging to minority community on selective basis. They said they are worried for their as well as for the safety of their children and other family members and Government should realise the gravity of the situation and take decision accordingly.
“We stayed in Kashmir during last over ten years despite facing various problems and militants onslaughts,”. But now the situation has been out of control and we have no guarantee of life in Kashmir”, said one of the protesting employee.
Over 4,000 Kashmiri Pandits are working in different departments in the Valley after they were selected under the Prime Minister’s employment package announced in 2008. However, several of them have returned to Jammu following the killing of their colleague Rahul Bhat, who was shot dead inside his office in Budgam district of Central Kashmir on May 12 and Santosh Bala a teacher on May 31 in her school premises in Kulgam district. This terrified the package employees and since then they are on protest.
“The Kashmiri Pandit employees have been on protest for the past over 40 days over their legitimate demand of relocation due to the most horrifying and life threatening conditions in Kashmir,” one of the protesters, Ashok Kumar Bhat, told reporters. He asked the Government to accept the demand of the protesters without any further delay.
“The Pandit employees are only meant to serve in Kashmir is a wrong notion created by certain people in the administration. There are other districts in Jammu where there is also a need and they can work far better there in the interest of the society,” he said.