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Police fire tear smoke shells to disperse protesters; Mehbooba under house detention


SRINAGAR: A day after the killing of a government employee (Kashmiri Pandit) by militants in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, police on Friday fired tear gas canisters to prevent Kashmiri Pandit protestors from moving towards Srinagar airport while the PDP chief and former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was placed under house arrest.

The Kashmiri Pandits staged a protest in Budgam today against the killing of the government employee Rahul Bhat.

Rahul, who worked in a tehsil office, was shot dead by militants inside the Tehsildar’s office at Chadoora in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Thursday.

The last rites of the slain Bhat were performed in Jammu's Bantalab today.

People carry the coffin containing the body of Rahul Bhat in Srinagar. (Photo | AP)

The Kashmiri Pandit employees working in Valley under the PM's job package staged a protest at Sheikhpora, Budgam against Bhat’s killing.

Chanting slogans against the administration, the protestors said they want justice.

“We had been informed by the administration and police that Lt Governor Manoj Sinha should visit the spot and give us assurance about our safety and security and also assure us that the assailants of Bhat won’t be spared,” said one of the protestors.

He said when the Lt Governor did not visit them till 11 am, they decided to march towards the Srinagar airport.

However, clashes broke out when they were intercepted by police. Police fired tear smoke shells to disperse the protestors.

The Pandits also staged a protest in Roop Nagar and Bantalab areas of Jammu against the killing.

A man performs the final rites of his brother Rahul Bhat. (Photo | AP)

“They forced our youth to serve in the Valley under the PM’s job package. If the government would have been serious, they could have given jobs to our youth in the central government. They want to push Kashmiri Pandits back to the Valley without analyzing whether the situation in Valley is conducive for their return and whether measures have been taken for their safety and security,” said a protesting Pandit in Roopnagar, Jammu.

Another protestor said the administration has failed and the 1990-like situation has returned.

“We urge the government that all the migrant Pandit employees, who are living on rent in far-off areas, should be shifted to safe locations,” he said.

Another protestor said Pakistan is the root cause of terrorism and a decisive attack should be launched on it and PoK reclaimed so that Kashmiri Pandit does not become scapegoat again and again.

The migrant Kashmiri Pandit employees had last night staged a protest at Vessu, Anantnag and blocked the vehicular movement on Srinagar-Jammu national highway.

Meanwhile, PDP chief and former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was placed under house arrest at her Gupkar residence today.

“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 that Kashmiri Muslims & Pandits empathize with each other’s pain doesn’t fit into their vicious communal narrative,” tweeted Mehbooba.

All the mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have condemned the killing of the Pandit employee by militants.