JAMMU, Dec 22: Angered over Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s remarks about stopping their salaries, Dogras and Kashmiri Pandits employees on Monday intensified their months-long protest demanding a transfer from the Valley in the wake of the targeted killings by terrorists here. In their response to the LG’s remark, the employees made it clear to the government that they will not return to Kashmir until their demands for transfer policy and relocation are not addressed.
Dogra employees assembled under the banner of ”All Jammu-based Reserved Categories Employees Association” at the BJP headquarters office here and staged a sit-in to press on their demand for framing a policy under which they should be transferred from the Valley to their home districts in the Jammu region. ”Let them stop salaries. Unless our demand for framing of transfer policy is made no one will join. Salaries are not more important than life”, one of the protesters told reporters here. Expressing her concern over the LG’s remarks, she said he as a constitutional head violated the law to frame the committee to give recommendations on transfer policy in a time-bound manner, but now he is saying that they are employees of Kashmir valley.
The Dogras and Kashmiri Pandits employees returned to Jammu following the killing of their colleague Rajni Bala. A resident of Samba district, Bala was shot dead by terrorists at a school in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on May 31.
Lashing at BJP, the protestors said that they should come out of their rooms and join our struggle as they had promised us that a transfer policy will be put in place to address their demand.
Sinha on Wednesday asserted all necessary measures have been taken for the safety of minority community employees including Kashmiri Pandits serving in the Valley and sent out a ”loud and clear” message to those protesting for 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,” LG told reporters at a press conference here.
The PM package employees who have also been on a strike in the valley for the past seven months following the killing of their colleague Rahul Bhat on May 12 have intensified the agitation by holding protests.
Bhat, a clerk, was shot dead inside the tehsildar’s office in Chadoora tehsil of Budgam district.
Chanting slogans and carrying placards, the protesters said the government should accede to the demands of the protesting PM package employees and temporarily transfer them to Jammu till the security situation in the Valley improves.
The protestors said the spate of targeted killings in Kashmir has created fear and uncertainty among the minorities serving in the Valley.
”We are demanding relocation in wake of threats to our lives. Hit-lists are issued every week. On the other side, the government is stopping salaries in a bid to force us to join duties in absence of security and get killed. We will not join,” a protestor said.
The spate of targeted killings in Kashmir started in May this year. Scores of Kashmiri Pandits, who were employed under the prime minister’s package in 2012, have been staging protests since the killing of Rahul Bhat.