Who Will Cry For Satish Singh, a poor Hindu Rajpoot Of Kashmir?
Family devastated, jihad accomplished
Government hands over compensation, responsibility over
On April 13, Satish Singh Jamwal, a Hindu Rajpoot of Kashmir, was killed by terrorists. Satish’s family has lived in Kulgam Tehsil for decades, perhaps generations. But when jihad is the motive, no considerations matter.
Satish lived at Kakran village in Kulgam Tehsil and District. He was killed on April 13 inside his house. His death was so chilling. A terrorist came towards their house and called Satish out. As Satish opened the door, the terrorist pumped bullets into him. Over.
Kakran is just four kilometers from the district headquarters at Kulgam. The lush green area still seems to be in a state of mourning, for the life of a man lost to hate. The surroundings seem not to have come to the terms with the murder yet. The family has accepted the killing as fait accompli – something already decided for their lot, and cannot be changed. It makes their predicament so tragic.
Satish was in his early 40s, and was a truck driver. He used to drive a truck owned by one Muhammad Amin Bhat of a neighbouring village, Kachohalan. He had arrived back from Punjab just one day before he was killed by the terrorists.
Zero Outrage Over Murder
Satish is among those thousands who have fallen to the bullets of terrorists in Kashmir. But his killing, in particular, seems to have passed by without so much as a ripple. There was no furore over it in Kashmir or outside. Leave alone a furore, there wasn’t even any discussion in civil society in Kashmir or outside? Why?
The answer is depressing.
Satish’s wife Raksha Devi demystifies the silence over her husband’s killing. She tells me in our mother tongue, “He was not a Kashmiri Pandit that his community and the Srinagar-based activists would organize candle light sit-ins at Lal Chowk in Srinagar and at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. He was not even Kashmiri Muslim that human rights champions would condemn his killing, and news people would bother about it on newspapers or on news channels. We are poor. Who will bother about us?” she questions me plainly, in a matter of fact manner.
I have to draw upon strength so that I am able to retain my composure as I talk to this grief-stricken, helpless family. Satish’s eldest daughter is Sakshi, aged 14. She studies in Class 8, and has 60% disability. The second daughter, Saloni, is 13 years old, and studies in Class 7. The youngest daughter, Sonakshi, is eight years old. She studies in Class 3. There is no male member in the family now. And no source of income.
Voiceless Community, No Protectors
Satish belonged to a minority community of Kashmiri Rajpoot. There are only a few hundred of them left in Kashmir. They are mostly scattered in Kulgam, Shopian and Baramullah districts.
Kakran village in Kulgam district, where Satish lived, has all of seven Rajpoot families. All the seven families are the poorest in the village.
Satish’s elder brother Kuljeet Singh Jamwal told us that there are a total of 60 families of Rajpoots in Kulgam District. He says that the Pandit exodus happened in 1990, the families decided against migrating to Jammu because of their extreme poverty. “Our elders felt that we were so poor that life would become impossible if we left our home and hearth. But time proved us wrong. Those who migrated got various benefits. They are provided relief. They have been allotted government quarters. Others built their own houses. Their children have been provided with government jobs. They get free ration, free electricity, free water and handsome monthly cash relief. What else do you need in life,” asks a disheartened Kuljeet.
He adds, “We are now being cursed by our fellow brothers who left Kashmir in 1990. They call us fools for staying back, only to be targeted one by one by the terrorists,” he says dejectedly.
According to Kuljeet, about 400 Rajpoot families migrated to Jammu in 1990. “The most important thing is they don’t live under the fear of death all the time. We are under constant threat in our own homeland. We live in extreme poverty. Our life is hellish. We don’t know when we may be killed. This is what we have achieved by choosing to stay back in Kashmir and not migrate in 1990,” says Kuljeet.
‘Govt Asks Us For Pandit Certificate’
Rajpoots have a very thin presence in Saidpora, Reshnagri, Kanjiuller, Shamshipora, Motjan and Batgund villages in Shopian District, Bonyar in Uri Baramullah district and some villages in Kulgam district. They are poor and scattered, hence there is no mobilization within the community. They are voiceless.
Kuljeet is painfully aware of the unfortunate predicament of the Hindu Rajpoots in Kashmir. “Ours is a forgotten community. We are only a few hundred, and that too scattered in three or four districts. See how we have to encounter bureaucratic apathy. When the children of our community apply for any government job as part of the special PM package for migrants or non-migrants, they are asked to produce certificates that they are Kashmiri Pandits. My daughter scored very high in the test conducted for appointment under the PM package. And for the appointment, the authorities asked her to produce a certificate that she belongs to Kashmiri Pandit community,” Kuljeet said.
Kuljeet and Satish had adjoining houses. The houses are very old. They were constructed in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Around three years ago, Satish had applied for construction of his house under PM Awas Yojna. The grant has not been approved till now. The family is burdened by worries. There are three widows in the family and not a single male member now. Satish’s mother is 82 years old. She is a widow. Satish’s sister lost her husband a few years back. She lives with Satish’s family. And now Raksha Devi is also widowed. Sometimes the pain faced by people around us hits us like an arrow.
A wood pole stuck in the compound holds up the wire for electricity supply. It tells the story of how marginalized this community is. Even the wood pole is in a bad state. It is rotting near the base.
Satish’s house is only about 50 feet from the main road passing through the village. The approach road to the house is rough and muddy.
One Washroom For 22 Persons – Police Security Has Multiplied Problems
After the killing of Satish, Jammu and Kashmir Police has deployed a guard of 10 policemen for the family’s protection. But with the guard, the problems have aggravated for the family. The guards have occupied the first floor of Kuljeet’s mud house. There is only one washroom located outside the house for the families. The 10 policemen use the same washroom. So now, there is one washroom for 22 persons.
The guard had requested for concertina wire around the cluster of the seven houses for the community. The wire has not been provided yet. It is learnt that the Deputy Commissioner had ordered that a boundary wall should be raised around the cluster of Rajpoot houses. That has not been done.
The Incharge of the guard, Head Constable Ashok Kumar said that they are waiting for the sand bags to be provided for the bunker.
The government has provided compensation to Satish’s widow, but the condition of the family is so bad that this compensation shall not serve their needs. The family has demanded that Raksha Devi should be given a government job so that they can have some long-term source of income. Former MP and Peoples Conference leader Nazir Ahmad Laway has written to the Police administration to appoint Raksha Devi as SPO. As things stand, there seems to be no end to the trauma faced by the family. The family members have requested LG Manoj Sinha to address the problems faced by them.
‘Sir! Please Request The LG To Provide A Job To Satish’s Wife’
Kakran village in Kulgam district, where Satish’s family resides, has a mixed population of Kashmiri Muslims, Pandits and Rajpoots. Many Kashmiri Pandit families still live in the village. The killing of Satish has terrorized all the villagers, especially those of the minority community.
Police say that this area is highly infested by militants. There are many local and Pakistani terrorists hiding in the area. As I walked towards Satish’s house, the Muslim neighbors on other side of the road tried to convey their anger over Satish’s killing. I could see the sadness on their faces. Scared of terrorists, they could not muster the courage to speak up.
Back in Kulgam, former MP and Peoples Conference leader Nazir Ahmad Laway narrated the story. “I am sad to say that the Rajpoot community has been neglected by the administration, particularly the political representatives,” said Laway.
“I personally knew Satish,” Laway continued. “He was a very gentle and hard-working man. My heart still bleeds for him. He was an innocent man who never did any wrong to anyone. So many people of our area cried when they heard of his killing. This is barbarism. I don’t know whether Kashmir will ever be peaceful. The blood of innocents is being spilled in the streets. The Rajpoot community is particularly vulnerable. There is no one to own them. No one to condemn the dastardly acts of terror perpetrated on them,” said an agitated Laway.
An elderly gentleman came running as I was leaving Laway’s place. “I know you Sir. Please tell the world the sad story of Satish’s family. They are devastated. There is no one to look after the widows and orphans of the family. No Yeteem Trust will care for these orphans, because they are not Muslims. Please Sir. Please convey on our behalf to LG to provide a job to Satish’s wife. She may not be educated but in the past many such people have been given jobs on compassionate grounds,” the elderly man cried as he spoke to me.