Pulwama attack aftermath: Valley tense as Kashmiri students head home after being targeted in northern states

The situation remains tense in the Valley. Kashmiris have been attacked in Jammu, as have Kashmiri students in northern states who've returned home over the past few days. Even as the authorities relaxed the curfew for three hours on Wednesday, restrictions on freedom of movement remain in force in Jammu on Thursday. Scores of students who returned to Srinagar called the situation “scary”.

Pulwama attack aftermath: Valley tense as Kashmiri students head home after being targeted in northern states

Forty-two CRPF personnel were killed in a JeM attack in Pulwama. PTI

Shahid Rehman, a Kashmiri student pursuing an engineering degree in Dehradun, returned to his home at the southern district of Anantag after the attacks on Kashmiri students in Uttarakhand. Rehman said his family was “worried”. He said he contacted a senior official of Jammu and Kashmir government to facilitate his travel home, but got a frosty response. “The officer said 'I have not taken a contract to bring back all the Kashmiris who are at different places outside the state'”, Rehman alleged. “I left for Srinagar with four other friends,”

Another Kashmiri student in Dehradun said, “We faced a lot of harassment. Landlords evicted us and goons even barged into some apartments where students were put up.” A large number of students returned home, he added. Rehman said he travelled by road and after reaching Bathindi in Jammu city, he returned to Srinagar through the Jammu-Srinagar Highway.

Police were seen outside the flats of government employees. Earlier, some government employees said their homes were pelted with stones, their vehicles were destroyed or windows of their cars damaged. Civil Secretariat Employees Union president Ghulam Rasool Mir said, “The employees resumed duty after the situation in Jammu city witnessed a relative improvement today.” However, employees have asked the government for “transport facilities” so that they can move their families back to Srinagar. Employees said they were worried about their families — especially women and children — facing attacks while they were on duty.

Gujjar activist Javid Rahi said the administration earlier called a meeting of different civil society members in Jammu which was attended by leaders of different faiths who vowed to “maintain and ensure peace in the region.” The administration also reached out to political leaders and asked them to help “establish peace by convincing the members of their religious communities to shun violence.”

Many residents of Jammu said the city earlier saw clashes between two communities at Gujjar Nagar in which both sides pelted stones. Scores of vehicles were burned by a mob with government employees accusing the police of “providing cover to the arsonists who damaged our vehicles.” Some residents said the public was angered by “pro-Pakistan slogans” being shouted during the demonstrations held to protest the killing of CRPF personnel on 14 February.

Earlier, violence spread to Khatika Talab and mobs also pelted stones at the flats of Kashmiris in Janipur. Jammu residents fear that violence may erupt again. “We never expected violence after the Pulwama attack or that the situation would turn so grim,” said a resident of Gujjar Nagar, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The clashes have further fractured relations between the two communities, which deteriorated after the 2008 agitation over the transfer of land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).  Chief patron of Panthers Party, professor Bhim Singh said that “violence in Jammu was part of the politics of BJP to create communal divide.” “Both Muslims and Hindus have maintained a tradition of communal harmony. In Kashmir, Hindus were protected in 1947 when there was religious violence elsewhere,” Singh said.

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Updated Date: Feb 21, 2019 21:25:48 IST

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