SRINAGAR: Police fired tear gas and used batons on Friday in India-held Kashmir to break up a protest against the killing of a Hindu allegedly by anti-India fighters.
Clashes are frequent in the occupied territory, but the police operation was the first in the Muslim-majority region against the local Hindu population, known as Pandits.
According to police, two gunmen shot and killed Rahul Bhat, a government employee, on Thursday inside an office complex in Budgam where he worked. Later police put the blame on Kashmiri fighters resisting Indian rule in the valley.
The protesters on Friday shouted slogans against the Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and demanded Bhat’s killers be brought to justice.
“If this kind of killing can happen inside a government office, what security is Modi’s government talking about for us?” one angry protester said.
Police were deployed when the demonstrators poured onto a main road and attempted to march towards the airport.
Small groups of Hindus also staged protests at three other locations in occupied Kashmir on Thursday night.
Many political leaders, including Muslims, issued statements condemning the “barbaric” killing of Bhat.
Tens of thousands of Hindu families fled the valley in the early 1990s when Kashmiris took up arms against Indian rule.
Most of them still live outside their homeland, scattered across Indian cities.
Bhat lived in a protected rehabilitation settlement for thousands of Pandits given government jobs in recent years under a plan to help resettle some of those who fled.
Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2022