In another targeted killing, militants shot dead a Kashmiri Pandit and injured another in an apple orchard in Shopian in the Valley Tuesday.
Police said Sunil Kumar Bhat died in hospital while Pritembar Kumar was being treated for injuries.
The two men were fired upon in Chotipora village of Shopian district. Their assailants fled after the attack and security forces mounted a search operation.
Lt Governor Manoj Sinha and leaders of political parties condemned the killing, the third of a Kashmiri Pandit in the Valley since October last year.
The Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), an organisation of Pandits who did not leave the Valley in 1990 when a majority of the community fled after being targeted by militants, said the government had “failed” them and asked members of the community to leave the Valley.
Stating that “no Kashmiri Pandit is safe in the Kashmir Valley”, KPSS president Sanjay Tickoo said the “judiciary and government have failed miserably to protect Kashmiri Pandits. As such, KPSS is appealing to all the Kashmiri Pandits to leave Kashmir”.
#Terrorists fired upon civilians in an apple orchard in Chotipora area of #Shopian. One person died and one injured. Both belong to minority community. Injured person has been shifted to hospital. Area #cordoned off. Further details shall follow.@JmuKmrPolice
— Kashmir Zone Police (@KashmirPolice) August 16, 2022
In a statement, police said: “Preliminary investigation revealed that terrorists had fired upon two civilians in an apple orchard at Chotipora area of Shopian district. In this terror crime incident, two civilians, identified as Pertimber Nath Bhat, son of Arjun Nath Bhat, and Sunil Kumar Bhat, son of Sri Ji Bhat, both residents of Chotigam Shopian, belonging to minority community, received critical gunshot injuries.”
“Both the injured were immediately shifted to hospital where one of the injured persons, Sunil Kumar Bhat, succumbed to his injuries. The condition of the other injured person is stated to be stable,” police said.
(According to eyewitnesses and Pritmber Bhat’s statement, while one terrorist was firing indiscriminately, the other was capturing the horrific incident on his smart phone, news agency PTI reported.)
Terribly sad news from South Kashmir today. An accident & a militant attack have left a trail of death & suffering. I condemn the militant attack in Shopian unequivocally in which Sunil Kumar was killed & Pinto Kumar injured. My condolences to the family.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) August 16, 2022
Following the attack, a joint team of police, Army and paramilitary personnel cordoned off the area to trace the militants. Senior police officers, including DGP Dilbag Singh and ADGP Vijay Kumar, visited Shopian.
In a Twitter post, Lt Governor Sinha said, “Pained beyond words on despicable terror attack on civilians in Shopian. My thoughts are with the family of Sunil Kumar. Praying for speedy recovery of injured. The attack deserves strongest condemnation from everyone. Terrorists responsible for barbaric act will not be spared.”
Former Chief Minister and NC vice president Omar Abdullah called it “terribly sad news” and condemned the attack. “My condolences to the family,” he said.
Terribly sorry to hear about the targeted killing in Shopian. Condolences to the deceased’s family. GOI continues to behave like an ostrich with its head buried deep under the sand. Every resident of J&K has become cannon fodder in Delhi’s quest for ‘manufactured normalcy’.
PDP president and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said residents of J&K have become “cannon fodder in Delhi’s question for manufactured normalcy”. Saying she was “terribly sorry to hear about the targeted killing in Shopian,” the PDP chief offered condolences to the family of Sunil Kumar.
Peoples Conference chief Sajad Lone said, “Yet another dastardly attack by coward terrorists in Shopian. We strongly condemn this heinous act of violence. My condolences to the family.”
PTI adds: There has been a sudden spike in attacks on minorities, labourers and police personnel in the Valley since the beginning of this year. The death toll in targeted attacks has gone up to 21 this year which includes two Kashmiri Pandits.
In January, one policeman was killed in a targeted attack in Anantnag. March saw the highest of seven such killings — five civilians and an on-leave CRPF jawan in Shopian and a special police officer (SPO) in Budgam. The brother of the SPO also lost his life in the same attack.
In April, two civilians, including a sarpanch, were killed, while in May, five persons — two policemen and three civilians — were killed. The civilians were Rahul Bhat, a government employee recruited under the Prime Minister’s special package for Kashmir Pandits, TV actor Amreen Bhat, and teacher Rajini Bala.
In June, a non-local bank manager and a non-local labourer were shot dead by terrorists, while a sub-inspector of police was also killed. Two non-local labourers have been killed so far in August.