In Kashmir, fear reigns supreme due to unabated targeted killings
Apart from Vijay Kumar, a bank manager from Rajasthan, gunmen killed seven people in the Valley from May 1-June 2, including a lady teacher, a Kashmiri Pandit employee, a TV actress, a wine shop employee and three policemen in separate targeted attacks
In one more targeted attack, an unknown gunman shot and killed a bank manager from Rajasthan in Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.
Suspected of being a militant, reports say that the gunman reached the Kulgam branch of Ellaquai Dehati Bank in Arreh area of the district and shot at the bank manager. Soon after receiving critical gunshot wounds, he was taken to a local hospital but doctors declared him dead.
The slain was identified as Vijay Kumar son of Om Prakash and a resident of Badhri Hunamangrah area of Rajasthan. Pertinently, Kumar had married last month and was now staying in Qazigund area of the Valley along with his wife.
Soon after the incident, the entire area was blocked off in order to apprehend the perpetrators. However, there have been no reports of any arrests made in the area so far.
Eight cases of targeted killings in last 33 days
There have been eight targeted killings in the Valley in the last 33 days, more specifically from May 1 to June 2, 2022.
Gunmen shot and killed a female teacher in Gopalpora village of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam district on May 31. Saifullah Qadri, a police officer in Srinagar’s Soura, was shot and killed as he walked to work on May 24. On a different occasion, two more police officers were slain.
A Kashmiri television actress was shot numerous times inside her home on May 25. A wine shop employee was killed in a grenade attack on May 17, in Valley’s Baramulla district.
On May 12, as per local police, Lashkar-e-Taiba militants shot and killed Rahul Bhat, a clerk under the special employment package for migrants, at his workplace in the Chadoora region of central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
Targeted killings trigger panic
The latest targeted killing has increased the fear among the people, especially the non-locals and Kashmiri Pandits.
The Pandit community has been protesting for the last many weeks to press for their main demand of relocating them to safer places outside the Valley. However, the administration has so far maintained to relocate them to safe places within the Valley.
Meanwhile, observers opine that the reactive approach from the local authorities, as well as the Centre, is making things worse for the vulnerable people in the Valley.
It is in place to mention here that the protesting Kashmiri Pandits have already warned to leave Kashmir if the authorities fail to curb the civilian killings and provide them with a safe environment.
Non-Muslim employees to be posted at safe places
Following the targeted killings of teachers, reports said that the authorities have directed the Chief Education Officers (CEOs) to place non-Muslim employees at the places of their choice and safe zones.
As per details, the School Education Department has directed the CEOs of Kashmir division to post non-Muslim employees of the department at their desirous places, keeping their safety in consideration.
Security tightened after latest target killing
Apart from the new postings, security has been stepped up across the Kashmir Valley, particularly in south Kashmir.
Multiple security review meetings have taken place, according to security officials, and the number of security troops positioned around vital sites, such as in south Kashmir, has been enhanced.
Security forces have also highlighted the use of pistols in these killings, as can be easily concealed and transported.
Centre begins to react to targeted killings
Home Minister Amit Shah, while taking note of the current situation in the Valley, has also sought an explanation over security lapses from the Union Territory’s Lieutenant Governor.
Prior to meeting J&K’s LG, Shah met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in north block in New Delhi on Thursday afternoon. The meeting was also attended by RAW Chief Samant Goel and other officials of the MHA.
However, there is an uneasy calm in Kashmir with fewer people preferring to move out, especially during the evening time. People also fear the deterioration of the situation, given the sudden rise in targeted attacks.