Press Trust of india

Slain Pandit’s cremation in Jammu witnesses emotional scenes

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Jammu: Emotions ran high as the mortal remains of a slain Kashmiri Pandit were consigned to flames here on Sunday with the grief-stricken community expressing anger against the alleged failure of the government to stop selective killings in the Valley.

Puran Krishan Bhat was gunned down by terrorists on Saturday outside his ancestral house in the Chowdhary Gund area of south Kashmir’ Shopian district, where he had gone to look after his orchards.

The body of the deceased was received by the wailing relatives at his Muthi residence in Jammu late Saturday night.

Amid chants of high-pitch sloganeering against Pakistan, thousands of mourners joined Bhat’s two children — Shriya (daughter) and Shanu (son) — and other relatives at the Ban Talab crematory Sunday to bid a tearful adieu to him.

They also demanded adequate compensation to the family, including Rs 50 lakh ex-gratia and a government job to the wife of the deceased, besides immediate relocation of Hindu employees outside the Valley till the security situation becomes normal.

As the body reached the cremation ground, several of Bhat’s relatives broke down. Shriya was seen kissing the body profusely to say goodbye to her father with her younger brother, a Class 5 student, staring at the corpse.

The mourners also raised slogans against the administration for its alleged failure to stop targeted killings in the Valley, soon after Divisional Commissioner Ramesh Kumar, along with other senior police and civil officers, reached the cremation ground.

“It is very unfortunate that one more Kashmiri Pandit fell to the bullets of terrorists, exposing the false claims of the government about improvement in security situation. He is the 18th minority community member shot dead over the past two years,” Satish Kumar, a relative of the deceased, said.

He said a police post and an army camp are located nearby where Bhat was assassinated, indicating that the security situation in the Valley has limped back to early 1990s.

Vikram Koul, a member of Kashmiri Pandit volunteers, said the government must immediately announce a compensation of Rs 50 lakh and a job for the family of the deceased.

“We also request the government to immediately relocate all the Hindus from the valley as it has failed to provide security to them,” he added.

Meanwhile, several activists of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were detained Sunday as political parties and social groups staged protests at different places here to protest the killing.

AAP activists led by senior leaders including District Development Council (DDC) member T S Toni, Maharaj Krishan Yogi and Amrit Wattal staged a protest outside the Press Club here but were baton charged and briefly detained by police.

An AAP spokesperson claimed several activists were injured in the police action.

“We had assembled to lodge our protest against the innocent killings and to expose the BJP-led government for its failure in ensuring a safe and secure atmosphere in the valley,” the spokesperson said.

He said Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing a serious security situation but the government seems “least concerned” and the only thing it is doing is to peddle “lies of normalcy”.

A large group of Congress activists led by working president Raman Bhalla also staged a protest here against the unabated target killings in the valley.

Reacting to the killing of Puran Krishan Bhat in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Saturday, Bhalla alleged that the government has failed on all fronts.

“There is an exodus of hope from Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, adding the Narendra Modi-led government made tall claims about eradicating terrorism from Jammu and Kashmir but the result on ground is “big zero”.

Local activists of Shiv Sena led by their president Manish Sahni also staged a protest outside their headquarters in the city against the killing of Bhat and demanded Rs 2 crore compensation to his family besides a government job to his wife.

“The proxy government of the Centre in Jammu and Kashmir has miserably failed in restoring peace and security to Hindus and other minorities,” Sahni alleged, demanding resignation of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha for his “failure to restore peace and security” in Kashmir.

Groups of Kashmiri Pandits also staged protests outside the Raj Bhavan and several other places against the killing and demanded immediate relocation of their community members from the Valley.

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