Two Srinagar Mosques Appeal Muslims to Protect Pandits: Report

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Jamia Masjid, Srinagar photo used for illustration.

Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti welcomes the announcement

Team Clarion 

NEW DELHI — Last Friday (October 8), two mosques in Srinagar appealed to the public during sermons to desist from actions that will aggravate fear among the Kashmiri Pandits living in the valley, The Wire reported.

The call that came in the wake of spate of Killings by suspected militants last week, has been applauded by Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), a group that works for the welfare of 800 Pandit families living in Kashmir.

Five people were killed including three Hindus and one Sikh and a Muslim in separate attacks in Srinagar and Bandipora. One among them was Makhan Lal Bindroo, a well-known pharmacist in Srinagar whose killing evoked widespread condemnation. Bindroo and his family had stayed back in Kashmir in the 1990s when most of the Pandits migrated out of fear after the outbreak of militancy.

The latest killings have triggered renewed fear among hundreds of Pandits who returned to the valley under the Government of India’s rehabilitation scheme. According to reports, a number of families have packed their bags and made a hasty retreat to Jammu or other places within the country.

The Pandits and Sikhs say that the Muslim majority community has not reacted to the killings the way they would have expected to build their confidence and stay put in the valley.

But Imams of two mosques in Srinagar’s downtown gave reassuring sermons during Friday congregational prayers last week.

One mosque is located in the Naqashpora area while the other is ahl-e-hadeeth in Sathu Barbarshah.

“These people are our brothers and have been living here for decades,” Riyaz Bhat, the Imam at one the mosques, told The Wire. “We are concerned that any mischief at this point would create fear and we do not want that.”

“My religious values teach me justice and humanity. I did just that. I told the people to become the muhafiz (protectors) of the people, especially those belonging to the aqliyat (minority),” he said.

Bhat said that his announcement is reasoned in religion.

Following these calls, the Pandit group sent out an appeal over WhatsApp groups calling on Masjids to make similar announcements. “Appeal to all masjid committees across Kashmir valley to restore confidence among all minorities in the valley through public systems,” the message as per The Wire reads. “I am thankful to two masjids in the downtown area doing the same last Friday.”

The killings have forced many Pandit families to relocate to secure places as they say they are fearing a return of the 90s situation.

According to The Wire report, an estimated 76,000 pandit families left the valley in early 90s when militancy broke out against Indian rule in Kashmir. As per KPSS, 850 Pandits died in militancy-related incidents. Today 808 Pandit families are still living at different places across Kashmir.

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