Kashmiri Pandit employees hit out at J&K LG over ‘salary’ remark, asks admin to ‘sack’ them

JAMMU — Migrant Kashmiri Pandit employees on Wednesday intensified their months-long protest demanding a transfer from the Valley following Lt Governor Manoj Sinha’s remarks about stopping their salaries.

The protesters also said it was best for the government to sack them as they would not rejoin their services in the Valley in the absence of proper security after a Lashkar-e-Taiba affiliate published hit-lists of Kashmiri Pandit employees.

The migrant Kashmiri Pandit and Jammu-based reserved category employees left the Valley in May following the targeted killings of two colleagues. They are seeking relocation outside Kashmir.

Earlier in the day, Sinha asserted that all necessary measures had been taken to ensure the safety of minority community employees, including Kashmiri Pandits, in the Valley and sent out a ”loud and clear” message to those demanding a transfer — no salary for sitting at home.

”We have cleared their (protesting employees’) salaries till August 31 but it cannot be done that they will be paid their salaries by sitting at their homes. This is a loud and clear message to them and they should listen and understand it,” Sinha told reporters.

In response, the Kashmiri Pandit employees, employed under the Prime Minister’s Rehabilitation Package in the Valley, held demonstrations in front of the Press Club here. Carrying placards depicting the administration’s ”step-motherly treatment” towards them, they also raised slogans in support of their relocation.

”It is an unfortunate statement. It is better for the government to sack us all. We will not go to the Valley to join services. Our lives are more important than jobs,” a protester told reporters here.

He said that if the government wanted to stop their salaries, it was free to do so. ”Our salaries should be used for nation building,” he added.

The protester also said Kashmiri Pandit employees could not be made symbols of peace and normality in Kashmir.

”We are in this position because of the situation created by the government. We had been living in the Valley for the past decade. But now, hit-lists are being issued to kill us. Do you want me to go to Kashmir and get killed?” he asked.

He was referring to a blog linked to The Resistance Front, an offshoot of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, that has released separate lists of Kashmiri Pandit employees recruited under the Prime Minister’s Rehabilitation Package and threatened to turn their transit colonies into ”graveyards”.

”Who will protect us? The administration has failed to protect us from selective killings,” another protester said.

”…We want the government to assure us that no Kashmiri Pandit will be targeted by militants in the future. If they are not in a position to give such an assurance, please accept our demand and relocate us outside Kashmir,” he added. — (PTI)