On protest for over eight months following targeted killings by terrorists, hundreds of Kashmiri migrant PM package employees and reserved category employees staged a separate sit-in here on Monday, reiterating their demand for relocation outside the Valley.
They also demanded immediate release of their pending salaries in view of the Maha Shivratri’ festival, being observed later this week.
Scores of Prime Minister package Kashmiri migrant Pandit employees and Jammu-based Reserved Category employees shifted to Jammu in May last year following the killing of their colleagues, Rahul Bhat and Rajini Bala, by terrorists in the valley.
While Bhat was shot dead inside his office in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on May 12, Bala, a school teacher, was gunned down in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on May 31, last year.
On February 4, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said many PM Package employees have resumed their duties in the valley and directions have been issued to release their pending salaries without delay.
“We have been on a protest strike for the last 280 days in support of our demand for relocation outside the valley. Our biggest festival, Maha Shivratri is round the corner and we demand that our pending salaries be released immediately,” said an employee, Rohit Raina.
Raina, who was posted in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, was part of a large group of Pandit employees who staged a sit-in outside the Raj Bhavan in support of their demand for relocation and release of pending salaries.
He claimed that only a few hundred of PM package employees have resumed their duties under compulsion, while many of them are not willing to return due to a “sense of insecurity”.
“We want the government to relocate us and utilise our services in Jammu. We are ready to perform our duties,” he said.
Raina said they are suffering financially after the government stopped their salaries in September.
Suman, a woman protester, said they are hesitant to return to the valley due to the fear of being killed. “Relocate us to Jammu till you make Kashmir terrorism-free. We will return without a second thought to perform our duties in a tension-free atmosphere.”
Separately, hundreds of reserved category employees, hailing from different districts of the Jammu region, also staged a sit-in outside the Press Club on the 258th day of their strike.
“Our only demand is transfer policy for the reserved category employees numbering over 3,000 who are working in two dozen government departments. We want the Lt Governor to fulfill his promise which he had made to us,” one of the protesters, Yashpaul Sharma, said.
He said they will continue their protest and will not return to Kashmir in view of their security concerns.
“We are ready to serve anywhere in the Jammu region,” he said.