Pandits’ march towards Airport foiled by teargas, cane charging

People protesting against killing of Rahul Bhat at Sheikhpora in Budgam on Friday. — Excelsior/Shakeel
People protesting against killing of Rahul Bhat at Sheikhpora in Budgam on Friday. — Excelsior/Shakeel

SIT formed to probe killing

Militants will have to pay heavy price: Sinha

Fayaz Bukhari
Srinagar, May 13: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha today said that militants and their supporters involved in the act of killing of a Kashmiri Pandit employee Rahul Bhat will have to pay a very heavy price for the heinous act.

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He said that the Government has constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe all aspects of the attack.
In a tweet, the LG said “Militants and their supporters will have to pay a very heavy price for their heinous act.”
He also said that a decision has been taken to constitute Special Investigation Team to probe all the aspects of the attack. “The SHO of the concerned Police Station has also been attached,” the LG tweeted.

People protesting against killing of Rahul Bhat at Sheikhpora in Budgam on Friday. — Excelsior/Shakeel
People protesting against killing of Rahul Bhat at Sheikhpora in Budgam on Friday. — Excelsior/Shakeel

Rahul was shot dead by militants in Tehsil office Chadoora in Budgam district yesterday. His killing’s left the entire Kashmiri Pandit community shattered and on the second day today, the members of Kashmiri Pandit community staged massive protests in various parts of the Valley and demanded protection and heightened security at their places of jobs and residential quarters including Sheikhpora, Budgam, Vessu in Qazigund and Haal in Pulwama.
Police used tear-gas shells and cane-charged the protesting Kashmiri Pandits at Sheikhpora, Budgam, who were marching towards Srinagar Airport. The protesters said that they were waiting for Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha till 11 am and as he didn’t turn up, they decided to march towards airport to lodge their protest against the killing of their colleague Rahul.
Dozens of Pandits assembled outside the migrant colony Sheikhpora, Budgam to register their protest. “We had informed the administration and police that LG should visit the spot and give us assurance about our protection and ensure culprits involved in the killing of Rahul Bhat won’t be spared. But the LG didn’t arrive at the spot and we were left with no option other than to march towards Srinagar airport,” a protester said.
The protestors were shouting slogans against DC Budgam. As the protestors proceeded towards Srinagar airport, police fired a few tear smoke shells to prevent their march.
Meanwhile, a police spokesman said that at about 11 am, people who were protesting against the killing of an employee at Chadoora, had blocked main Sheikhpora Budgam road since yesterday afternoon suddenly started moving towards Airport road.
“Although the Magistrate repeatedly requested & tried to pacify the protesters not to proceed towards the very busy and over-crowded Airport road, however, protesters while ignoring such persuasions and repeated requests from the administration, kept on moving towards the road while forcibly breaking all the physical barriers en-route and pushing the police and security forces who were peacefully trying to persuade/stop them from moving ahead,” the police spokesman said.
“The protesters who were adamant to block the Airport road, and, did not pay any heed and instead managed to travel a distance of about one kilometre from Sheikhpora.”
The police spokesman said that given the topography of the area and huge rush at the Airport road there were inputs that militants may take advantage of the same and attack the protesters in order to create communal clash/tension.
“Therefore in view of this, while sensing the security of the protesters who had resorted to violence and neglected the pacification requests by administration and to thwart evil designs of anti national elements (ANEs), police were constrained to finally hurl few teargas smokes to disperse them. However, the protesters again re-assembled at Sheikhpora road and sat on protest and blocked the main road. Later, all of them went back to their home,” the statement said.
Scores of Kashmiri Pandits in Kupwara held a protest against the killing. They blocked Srinagar-Kupwara highway and raised slogans against the Central Government and BJP, demanding an end to the killings.
“We are being killed every day here. Our lives are not so cheap. We ask the administration to keep us safe or we will leave Kashmir to protect our lives,” said one of the protesters.
Meanwhile, PDP chief and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that she was put by administration under house arrest at her Fairview residence on Gupkar Road in Srinagar.
“Wanted to visit Budgam to express my solidarity with Kashmiri Pandits protesting against GoI’s failure to protect them. Have been put under house arrest as the fact the Kashmiri Muslims & Pandits empathise with each other’s pain doesn’t fit into their vicious communal narrative,” she tweeted.