Valley-Based Staff’s Relocation Demand After Teacher’s Killing a Challenge for J&K L-G Manoj Sinha

In what may be a challenge for Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Valley-based employees are pitching for relocation, following the killing of teacher Rajni Bala.

More than 60 employees from the scheduled caste and border residents category have petitioned Union Minister Jitendra Singh.

“In view of the murder of our colleague Rajni Bala in Kulgam, we feel unsafe. Kindly transfer us from the Valley on a humanitarian basis,” read the representation bearing signatures of the teachers.

Similarly, a letter by 27 KP teachers to chief education officer of Ganderbal seeking station leave permission has been sent to higher officials. Although officials have said it is unlikely to be processed, it puts pressure on the administration over the security of Kashmiri Pandits and now Jammu teachers.

The teachers have been rattled by the killing of Bala by suspected militants while she was bracing to start her day in the Gopalpora high school in Kulgam on Tuesday.

Along with 4,000 Kashmiri Pandit employees, a few hundred teachers from Jammu region have been working in far-off districts such as Kulgam, Pulwama, Ganderbal and Bandipore.

THE FAVOURITE HISTORY TEACHER

Bala, 36, a history teacher, was quite popular among students. She had been serving in Kulgam for the past five years until Tuesday, when militants shot at her in the head. She later succumbed to her wounds.

A red purse and a maroon pair of shoes lay in the school building before a village headman carried it and handed it over to a police officer. A team of forensic experts were seen picking blood smears with small tweezers from the pebbled path of the school and inserting them in a test tubes.

“She fell here after being shot at,” little Aarzoo told News18, breaking down between sentences. “The last memory of her favourite teacher will remain with her for a long time,” her mother sighed.

Stunned teachers and villagers put Bala in a car and took her to a hospital.

Fayaz Ahmad Tantray, school headmaster, could not hide his tears.

ALSO READ | Protests in J&K After Kashmiri Pandit’s Killing, Community Threatens to Resign En Masse

He said Bala’s transfer order had come in the morning and she would have left the place in a day or two.

“I shared the order with her and she was overjoyed. Her husband and she, who also serves in Kulgam district, were to be posted at one place,” he said. “It is an irony that she had to die here when this could have been her last day in the school,” he rued.

THE PROTESTS

Bala’s death triggered spontaneous street protests across the Valley with the Kashmiri Pandits, already protesting since government employee Rahul Bhat’s killing, blocking roads in Srinagar city of Sonwar, Airport road and Jammu Srinagar National Highway at Vessu next to the migrant transit camp.

Pandit leaders put government on notice that if they are not relocated outside Valley they will leave en masse to Jammu. Amit Kaul, their leader, told the media that seven persons, including a Kashmiri Pandit clerk, a Muslim cop and an artiste, were assassinated in May.

“We are aware livelihood is important, but nothing comes before life. We urge the government to shift us from here,” he said. “One solution, relocation,” shouted the protestors.

ALSO READ | ‘Fear at The Top of My Mind’: Terror-stricken J&K Kashmiri Pandit Employees Not Buoyed by Govt’s Words

This morning, the striking employees were stunned to see that police had sealed the Indiranagar and Sonawar areas and disallowed them to move.

Identity cards of people housing many employees were checked and pandits were barred from moving out of the locality.

Police had blocked the lanes putting concertina wires and vehicles to scan all those entering and exiting. Even the media was asked to move out of the area. Reports suggest similar restrictions were put in other places.

Officials are mum over latest developments and LG administration said they are in dialogue with protesting KP employees.

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