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Amid protests, slain teachers cremated

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Photo-Javed Khan/Kashmir Images

Srinagar/Jammu: A woman principal and a teacher who were shot dead inside their school in Srinagar were given a tearful adieu on Friday as protests erupted in many parts of Jammu and Kashmir over the recent spate of killing of civilians while Opposition leaders alleged that the “worsening” situation in the union territory was due to the Centre’s “wrong measures”.

The last rites of Supinder Kaur — the slain principal of the government school in Eidgah locality were performed by the family and relatives at a cremation ground in Karan Nagar area in Srinagar. Hundreds of members of the Sikh community assembled at the residence of Kaur in Aloochi Bagh area and took out a protest march from there, carrying her mortal remains on a stretcher.

The protesting members of the community — both old and young alike — covered the distance from Aloochi Bagh to Jehangir Chowk on foot, shouting slogans demanding justice for the victim shot dead at the school along with her colleague Deepak Chand.

The police tried to persuade the protesters to stop their march, but to no avail.

They marched towards the Civil Secretariat, the seat of the Jammu and Kashmir government, and held a silent sit-in there.

The community members said the protest march and the sit-in was held to demand justice for Kour.

Later, the family members took Kour’s mortal remains to the cremation ground where her last rites were held and she was bid a tearful adieu.

Chand was laid to rest at the Shaktinagar cremation ground in Jammu. A pall of gloom had descended as Chand’s mortal remains arrived from Srinagar at his Patoli home around midnight with hundreds of people waiting outside.

Chand’s mother Kanta Devi and wife Anuradha were inconsolable.

“Just give me my Deepak back. I don’t want a job. I don’t want anything,” a wailing Kanta Devi said.

Kanta Devi, who along with family migrated from Kashmir in 1990, said the government could not ensure security of her son, who had to work in Kashmir for a living and paid with his life.

Kaur and Chand were shot dead at point blank range, taking to seven the number of civilians killed by militants in Kashmir Valley in five days. On Tuesday, a prominent Kashmiri Pandit Makhan Lal Bindroo and a vendor Virendra Paswan from Bihar were killed in Srinagar and civilian Mohammad Shafi Lone in Bandipora. Majid Ahmad Gojri was shot dead in Karan Nagar are and Mohammad Shafi Dar at Batamaloo on Saturday.

As the spate of targeted killings of minorities rocked Kashmir, a Kashmiri Pandit organisation said some employees from the community, who were provided government jobs under a rehabilitation package in 2010-11, have started moving to Jammu quietly fearing for their life, alleging the administration was unable to provide then a secure environment.

Opposition leaders, meanwhile, slammed the government over the killings and called for strong action.

During the day, several organisations staged protests over the killings and said such violence was the result of “frustration among separatists as the region was seeing fast development and peace”.

In Jammu thousands of people took part in a rally, held under the banner of the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Forum (JKPF). Raising anti-Pakistan slogans, the protesters blocked traffic on the Tawi bridge in Jammu and congregated under the statue of Maharaja Hari Singh, the last King of Kashmir.

Besides the JKPF, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal, the Shiv Sena, and the Jagran Manch also held demonstrations against the incidents, while members of the Kashmiri Pandit community protested in Purkhoo, Butanagar and Muthi.

“We are holding protests to express our anger over the selective and systematic killing of minorities (Sikhs and Hindus) in Kashmir during the past few days. The terrorists of TRF (The Resistance Front) selectively targeted two teachers belonging to minority communities and shot them dead,” JKPF member Rajiv Pandita said.

BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir vice-president Yudhvir Sethi said those responsible for killings will be punished and will not be allowed to go scot-free.

“Terrorists are attacking soft targets and unarmed minorities to create fear and terror in Kashmir. The violence is the result of the pressure they are feeling,” he said.

The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries also took out a protest march and condemned the spate in killings.

Led by its president, Arun Gupta, hundreds of businessmen, traders and industrialists raised anti-Pakistan slogans and demanded immediate security to minorities in the Valley.

Jammu and Kashmir National Panther party (JKNPP) activists, led by their chairman Harsh Dev Singh, staged a demonstration in Jammu, and condemned the violence and the government for failing to prevent it from happening.

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