Press Trust of India

Attack on Kashmiri Pandit: Muslim neighbours rally behind survivor’s family

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Shopian: After a Kashmiri Pandit shopkeeper was shot at by militants in Shopian in south Kashmir on Monday, his family received immense support from his Muslim neighbours who not only rushed him to a hospital but camped at his house as well to ward off any further trouble.
Bal Krishan Bhat, whose family runs a medicine store in Chotigam of the district, was shot at by militants outside his shop. He is currently undergoing treatment at the 92-Base Hospital of the Army in Srinagar and his condition is stated to be stable.
The Bhat family is one of the two Kashmiri Pandit families in Chotigam, nearly 10 km from the Shopian district headquarters and 70 km from Srinagar.
The region is a hotbed of militancy and is considered a stronghold of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
“We have lived here all along and never left the place. I will add that we have never felt threatened,” Bal Krishan Bhat’s brother Anil Bhat told PTI.
“We don’t know what is in store for us, all our neighbours are very nice, but how will we counter the threat of gun. We will decide on our future course only after my brother returns from hospital,” 32-year-old Anil Bhat said.
On Tuesday, a large number of their neighbours visited the Bhat family and expressed their support to them.
“The moment I heard gunshots and cries, I rushed out along with my nephew and friends. We drove Sonu (Bal Krishan Bhat) to Shopian,” said Mukhthair Ahmed Lone, a neighbour.
After Bhat was taken to the Army facility, Lone and his entire family camped at the Bhat household. “Sonu and I grew up together and there is no difference between us at all. We are one and, inshallah, we will always remain one,” Lone said.
Fayaz Ahmed, another neighbour, said Sonu is liked by everyone in the village as he would open his shop even after midnight to help people in case of any medical emergency.
Pandit Janki Nath Bhat, the father of Bal Krishan, interacted with the neighbours who visited their house on Tuesday. The neighbours pleaded with the family not to leave the valley.
“There are many who will want us to pull in different directions but let us say this with all firmness that we were, are and shall always remain one,” G Rasool Mir said at the Bhat residence.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police, in the meantime, has provided security to the Kashmiri Pandit families after Monday’s attack, for which The Resistance Front, a shadow outfit of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba, claimed responsibility.
“We have already provided security in several villages where minority communities are residing. Some villages are still without security but the regular area domination exercise is being done by police and security forces jointly,” Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Range) Vijay Kumar told PTI here.
He said the police force was working hard to arrest or neutralise terrorists involved in this terror-crime and added that there is no need to panic.
“Our war against terrorism is going as per our plan. Such incidents are frustration of terrorists especially their handlers across the border,” he said.

Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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