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Since Article 370 abrogation, 21 from minority communities were killed, and no Kashmiri Pandit left Valley: MoS in LS

Kashmiri Pandit employees shout slogans during a protest march over the killing of Rahul Bhat and other demands, at Lal Chowk in Srinagar.

On August 5, 2019, the government announced the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two union territories because it would help in combating terrorism and development.

Since August 5, 2019, 21 non-Muslim Kashmiris and outsiders were killed by terrorists in the Valley, but no Kashmiri Pandits left the Valley (since that date), the government told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

“From August 5, 2019, till July 9, 2022, 128 security personnel and 118 civilians have been killed by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. Of the 118 civilians killed, five were Kashmiri Pandits and 16 others belonged to Hindu/Sikh communities. No pilgrim has been killed during this period,” MoS Home Nityanand Rai told the Lok Sabha in a written reply to a question.

On being asked how many Kashmiri Pandits had migrated out of the Valley due to these recent killings, Rai said, “Under the Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP), 5,502 Kashmiri Pandits have been provided Government jobs in different departments of Govt. of Jammu and Kashmir in the Valley. Further, as per the records, no Kashmiri Pandit has reportedly migrated from the Valley during the said period.”

On August 5, 2019, the government announced the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two union territories because it would help prevent terrorism and promote development.

On May 31, after a woman teacher was shot dead by terrorists in Kulgam district, an association of KP employees threatened to leave the Valley if she was not shifted to safer places in 24 hours.

Rajni Bala, hailing from Samba district in the Jammu division, was shot dead by terrorists on May 31 inside a government school in Kulgam where she was posted. Before her, Rahul Bhat, a clerk in the office of Chadoora Tehsildar in Budgam district was shot dead inside his office on May 12. These killings followed a spate of such murders in October last year when Pandits, including famous Kashmiri pharmacy owner Makhan Lal Bindroo, and multiple migrant workers were shot dead by militants.

After the 2021 killings, many Kashmiri Pandits fled the Valley out of fear and fled to Jammu. Some Pandits in government service in Kashmir have also accused the government of forcing them to stay in the Valley by threatening disciplinary action.

The government has repeatedly said that it is taking all possible measures to ensure the safety of all migrants in the Valley.

“The government has a zero-tolerance policy against terrorism and the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir has improved significantly. Terrorist attacks have declined significantly from 417 in 2018 to 229 in 2021,” Rai said on Wednesday.

Modi’s government is trying to bring back displaced Kashmiri Pandits to the valley. However, progress on this front has been slow.

“Government of India approved construction of 6,000 transit accommodations for Kashmiri Migrant employees engaged/to be engaged in different districts of Kashmir Valley under the Prime Minister’s Development Package-2015 (PMDP-2015) announced on 7.11.2015. Construction of 1,025 units has been completed/substantially completed, 1,872 units are at different stages of completion and work on remaining units has been taken up,” Rai said in reply to another question.

Meanwhile, the government told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that state land (including Khalsa Sarkar, Kahchrie, Shamilat, etc.) measuring 2,359.45 hectares has been acquired by the government for various public purposes such as roads, including National Highways, railways, schools/colleges, playgrounds, parks, buildings, soil waste management, border fencing/border outposts, industrial estates etc. during the years 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-2022 (up to June 2022).

It also said that out of 8,565 hectares of land allotted under the Roshni Act scheme, it has been able to acquire only over 1,300 hectares so far. These allotments were quashed by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

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