On Monday evening, suspected militants fired at a Kashmiri Pandit in South Kashmir’s Shopian, leaving him seriously injured. The firing on Bal Krishan, of Chotigam village, followed two other attacks during the day in the Valley, leaving a CRPF personnel dead and three people injured, including two migrant workers.
Police sources said Krishan received three bullets and is in a critical condition.
Monday’s attack was the first on Kashmiri Pandits since October last year when militants had shot dead a prominent businessman, M L Bindroo, at Srinagar. After the attack, the government had enhanced the security of Pandits living in the Valley.
The attack on migrant labourers was the second in two days and the fourth in a fortnight – all of them in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. In the attack Monday, in Lajoora village, Patlashwar Kumar and Jakku Choudhary, both residents of Bihar, were targeted. Shot in the limbs, the two are hospitalised and stable.
Unlike a similar spate of attacks on migrant labourers five months ago, the shootings this time seem designed not to be fatal, nor have any militant groups taken responsibility for them.
The first attack was on March 19, when suspected militants fired at a carpenter, Mohammad Akram, from Uttar Pradesh. Two days later, a labourer from Bihar, Biswajeet Kumar, was shot at. On Sunday evening, suspected militants shot at and injured a driver and a conductor, both from Pathankot in Punjab, at Nowpora village of Litter. One of the workers was hit in the chest and is serious.
A senior police officer said the motive seems to be “to create fear among migrant workers and drive them out of the Valley”. “Otherwise, the militants could have easily killed them if they wanted.”
The attacks have coincided with the government telling Parliament that 30 people from outside Jammu and Kashmir have purchased property in the Union territory – a sensitive issue in the Valley.
Another police officer said militants want to showcase that they retain their capability to “strike at will”, at a time when the government is hopeful of paving the way for elections in J&K. On Monday, a team of the Delimitation Commission arrived in the UT to hold public consultations over redrawing of constituencies. “This change in strategy and tactics by militants is definitely posing a challenge,” the officer said.
The attacks on migrants in October last year had put the government under pressure, with panic leading many workers to leave Kashmir.
In the third attack on Monday, militants struck in the heart of Srinagar’s crowded Maisuma neighbourhood, targeting CRPF personnel from point blank range before escaping. While one personnel was injured, Head Constable Vishal Kumar succumbed to his injuries at hospital.
Police said that in view of the rush of people in the area, the security forces “exercised maximum restraint”.
A joint team of J&K Police and paramilitary personnel has cordoned off the area and is searching for the militants.