Emotional scenes at cremation of slain Kashmiri pandit in Jammu

The body of the deceased was received by the wailing relatives at his Muthi residence in Jammu late Saturday night.

Jammu: Emotions ran high as the mortal remains of a slain Kashmiri pandit were consigned to flames here on Sunday with the grief-stricken community expressing anger against the alleged failure of the government to stop selective killings by terrorists in the Valley.

Puran Krishan Bhat was gunned down by terrorists on Saturday outside his ancestral house in the Chowdhary Gund area of south Kashmir’ Shopian district, where he had gone to look after his orchards.

The body of the deceased was received by the wailing relatives at his Muthi residence in Jammu late Saturday night.

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Amid chants of high-pitch sloganeering against Pakistan, thousands of mourners joined Bhat’s two children — Shriya (daughter) and Shanu (son) — and other relatives at the Ban Talab crematory Sunday to bid a tearful adieu to him.

They also demanded adequate compensation to the family, including Rs 50 lakh ex-gratia and a government job to the wife of the deceased, besides immediate relocation of Hindu employees outside the valley till the security situation becomes normal.

As the body reached the cremation ground, several of Bhat’s relatives broke down. Shriya was seen kissing the body profusely to say goodbye to her father with her younger brother, a Class 5 student, staring at the corpse.

The mourners also raised slogans against the administration for its alleged failure to stop targeted killings in the valley, soon after Divisional Commissioner Ramesh Kumar, along with other senior police and civil officers, reached the cremation ground.

“It is very unfortunate that one more Kashmiri pandit fell to the bullets of terrorists, exposing the false claims of the government about improvement in security situation. He is the 18th minority community member shot dead over the past two years,” Satish Kumar, a relative of the deceased, said.

He said a police post and an army camp are located nearby where Bhat was assassinated, indicating that the security situation in the valley has limped back to early 1990s.

Another relative of Bhat, who had come from Shopian accompanying the body of the deceased, said they feel it was their biggest mistake not to leave the valley after the eruption of terrorism.

Vikram Koul, a member of Kashmiri Pandit volunteers, said the government must immediately announce a compensation of Rs 50 lakh and a job for the family of the deceased.

“We also request the government to immediately relocate all the Hindus from the valley as it has failed to provide security to them,” he added.

Chairman of Panun Kashmir Ajay Chrungoo castigated the government for the continued killing of Hindus in Kashmir and said they are caught between genocidal war unleashed on them by jihadi forces with the state of Pakistan as its prime abettor and the denial of genocide by government of India .

The government must pass the ‘Prevention of Genocide and Atrocities Bill’ as proposed by the Panun Kashmir, he said.

Panun Kashmir convener Agnishekhar said all claims of normalcy in Kashmir have fallen flat in view of the continued killings of the members of the minority community.

“Tourist arrivals and shooting of films are no signs of normalcy…The real normalcy will be when we (Kashmiri pandits) are able to move freely and re-settle there without any fear,” he said.

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