Kashmir witnessed sixteen targeted killings so far this year

Kashmir witnessed sixteen targeted killings so far this year

Kashmir Valley has witnessed at least 16 targeted killings, including police officials, teachers and sarpanches, since January this year.

J&K Police DGP Dilbag Singh told The Indian Express that those targeting minorities, civilians and people in government are “only propagating fear, since local residents have stopped responding to their diktat”.

He said that by attacking members from different parts of the Valley and from different sections of the society, “the terrorists want to show their presence”. By attacking people whose “right to residence in Kashmir is questioned by terrorists, they are creating (an) atmosphere for Kashmiris to be attacked outside the UT”, he said.

The episodes of targeted killings spiked after February 2021, when the son of the proprietor of Krishna Dhaba in Srinagar was shot inside his restaurant. He succumbed to gunshot injuries at the hospital two days later.

On October 5 2021, prominent chemist M L Bindroo was killed in his shop, prompting outrage from political leadership and civil society.

Two days later, Supinder Kour, principal at Government Boys Higher Secondary School, Sangam, and Deepak Chand, teacher at the school, were gunned down after assailants checked identity cards of the school staff. Last year, 182 militants and at least 35 civilians were killed in the Valley.

At a time when targeted attacks were increasing in Kashmir, police had attributed this to “killing of huge number of terrorists of all outfits, especially their leaderships, destruction of their support structures and continuous and effective maintenance of law and order”.

Police said militants had become “frustrated” and changed their strategy to target unarmed policemen, innocent civilians, politicians, and “now innocent civilians from minority communities, including women”.

Security forces have also highlighted the use of pistols in these killings, as can be easily concealed and transported. Additionally, they said, “these acts are committed by newly recruited terrorists or those who are about to join terrorist ranks. In some cases, overground workers (OGWs) have been found directly involved.”

In October 2021, on his first visit to the Valley since revocation of special status to J&K, Home Minister Amit Shah’s first stop was Police Inspector Parvaiz Ahmad’s home in Nowgam — Ahmad was shot dead on June 22 outside his home while returning from prayers.

Since the beginning of this year, members of the Panchayati Raj institutions, including three sarpanches, have been shot dead.

On April 4, Bal Krishan, who came from the Kashmiri Pandit community, was killed by suspected militants near his home in Choutigam Shopian.

In at least three cases, labourers from outside J&K were shot at and injured.

Most recently, a Kashmiri Pandit employee of the Revenue Department of J&K, working under the PM rehabilitation package, was shot inside his office at Chadoora, Budgam, leading to widespread protests by people from the community. The protests have continued, with employees refusing to return to work despite assurances by J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha that their concerns would be addressed.

On May 25, a Kashmiri TV actor was shot multiple times inside her home. Her family is still grappling with the reasons why she may have been targeted.

On Tuesday, a teacher from Samba, Rajni Bala, became the most recent victim of this spate of killings, as suspected militants attacked her on her way to work at a school in Kulgam.

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