Kunal Shrivatsa

Many panicked PM Package employees reach Jammu

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Reserved category employees protest for 2nd day in Jammu, seek transfer from Kashmir

JAMMU: Several displaced Kashmiri Pandit employees recruited under Prime Minister’s special package and serving in different parts of Kashmir, have reached Jammu following the fresh killings minorities in the Valley.

“Nothing is more precious than life. If we remain alive we could secure a job here also. But God forbid if we get killed what will be the fate of our families. We cannot ignore the fact that there is extreme danger to our lives in Kashmir. That is the reason we came back to Jammu,” said an employee who reached Jammu today.

“Locals in Kashmir are generally generous towards us but you cannot trust anybody blindly as somebody may come and shoot you from close range. Terrorists are executing murders after barging into offices. Rahul Bhat’s killing inside Tehsil office is enough proof of the deteriorating situation,” said a Revenue Department employee, who wished not to be named.

“How the government can assure us that we will not be the next target of terrorists’ bullets?” he questioned.

His mother narrating the ordeal, which is being faced by the Kashmiri Pandit employees and their families, said that the last few days were horrible for them.

“There was so much fear that I couldn’t sleep for the entire night for the last two-three days. I used to remove bindi from my forehead before going to market and apply it only after reaching back home. Our landlords were very good people, there was no issue with them. In fact they persuaded us to stay back but the situation was not conducive to be there,” she said.

Some of the displaced Kashmiri Pandit employees are reaching Jammu on commercial vehicles while few others have arrived here in their own cars.

One of the employees, Rubon ji Saproo, who reached his Jammu residence in Durga Nagar today, said that he was putting up in Sheikhpura migrant camp, Budgam from where a large number of KP employees have left as they were feeling insecure in Kashmir.

“The prevailing situation in Kashmir is not conducive for the minorities. Three major incidents of target killings took place in the last two-three days. Unfortunate part behind these gruesome killings is that they are being executed in the official premises,” said Saproo.

Nearly 4000 displaced Kashmiri Pandits are working in different departments in the Valley after their selection under Prime Minister’s employment package which was announced in 2008 having two major components – one pertaining to the provision of 6000 jobs for youth and another pertaining to the provision of 6000 accommodation units for the recruited employees.

The process of filling the remaining 2000 odd jobs is in progress along with construction of 4000 accommodation units.

Meanwhile, a group of government employees, mostly teachers, staged a sit-in here for the second day on Friday to press for their transfer from Kashmir to their home districts in the Jammu region following a string of targeted killings in Kashmir.

These employees have returned to Jammu after their colleague, Rajni Bala, was shot dead by militants at a school in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Tuesday.

Under the banner of ‘All Jammu-based reserved categories employees association’, the protesters took out a march from the Press Club to Ambedkar Chowk on Thursday and followed it by another sit-in at Panama Chowk in the heart of the city on Friday.

“We are not going to return to Kashmir to resume our duties in the prevailing alarming situation following the targeted killings. We prefer to die here rather than go back,” said Surinder Kumar.

He urged the government to take note of their protest and ensure their transfer from Kashmir to the Jammu region.

Kumar said they have already served in Kashmir for 15 years and “are not willing to return to get killed at the hands of terrorists”.

Women teachers, who took part in the protest, expressed their unwillingness to return to the Valley because of the security issues.

“Where are the safer zones in Kashmir? We have to move out, drop our children at local schools and attend to our duties,” a woman said.

She said they were living happily with the local population in Kashmir over the past decade and claimed that targeted killings have triggered fear among them.

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