The murder of Kashmiri Hindu Pandit Ajay Pandita, who also was Sarpanch (head) of the local village Lakbawan in Anantnag district of Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, by terrorists belonging to recently born TRF (The Resistance Front) group, the second Islamic terrorist group with a non-religious name after JKLF, once again reminds us of the targeted killings of Hindus that had happened in 1990.
The names of the terror groups might have changed, but the target remains the same: Hindu Pandits.
Ajay Pandita’s family had migrated to Jammu during the gruesome attacks on Hindu Pandits in 1990 when lakhs of Hindu Pandits were forced to leave Kashmir and their belongings overnight, and were forced to migrate to different parts of Bharat. But later in 1996-97, Ajay Pandita decided to return to his village against his father’s will.
He was a grass roots advocate of democracy and was an elected sarpanch from Congress party. He was of the belief that every displaced Hindu Pandit should be rehabilitated back in Kashmir. Reports reveal that he was called out of his house on the pretext of getting some papers signed by him as he was the Sarpanch, and as soon as he came out of his house he was showered with bullets by terrorists on a motorbike.
Ajay Pandita is not the only elected public representative who has been killed like this by terrorists; there have been many instances where Sarpanchs have been brutally killed by one or the other terrorist outfit in Kashmir. Here, one needs to question why terrorist organizations fear these poor Sarpanchs.
This twitter thread gives us good insight into the dynamics at play.
The Sarpanch is the person who is responsible to implement government schemes and other programs of the government in the village, which is the smallest unit of our democracy. He is the one who acts as a bridge between government and the villagers, and can bring development schemes to the village that might deviate the villagers away from the dreams of “Azaadi” shown to them by Islamic terrorist groups.
It also needs to be noted that terrorists have better strong hold in rural areas rather than in cities. Security of Sarpanchs has been a long-time demand which the government has failed completely to fulfill. Just from 2011 to 2014, a staggering 38 Sarpanchs were murdered by terrorists. In a situation where terrorists are attacking democracy by killing sarpanchs, the government should have given priority to the security of their grass root level representatives in order to save democratic governance.
Post revocation of special status of erstwhile state of J&K in August 2019, a growing sense of returning to Kashmir can be felt in the majority of the Kashmiri Hindus who had migrated from Kashmir decades ago. But instances such as the brutal murder of Ajay Pandita are specifically targeted to block such an emotional wave.
There are still a few brave hearts who show the strong desire to return, but then they too are concerned about security and are requesting the government to arrange weapons and training for them so they can take responsibility of safeguarding themselves. The idea seems justified as well. When means of providing government security are meagre, it is wise to provide arms & training to Kashmiri Pandits and make them self reliant in terms of their own security.
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