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Eleven days after he was shot at, son of J&K eatery owner dies

On the evening of February 17, the a dhaba in Srinagar was filled to capacity when two masked men barged in with pistols. They went straight to the cash counter, where Akash Mehra, the 22-year-old son of the owner was sitting, and shot him from point-blank range.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar |
Updated: March 1, 2021 7:32:56 am
Eleven days after he was shot at, son of J&K eatery owner diesAkash Mehra’s mother at his funeral in Jammu, Sunday. (PTI)

Eleven days after he was shot at by suspected militants, Akash Mehra, the 22-year-old son of the owner of a popular eatery in Srinagar, died in hospital on Sunday.

On the evening of February 17, the dhaba was filled to capacity when two masked men barged in with pistols. They went straight to the cash counter, where Akash was sitting, and shot him from point-blank range. Akash was hit in the abdomen.

The dhaba and a few others in the highly guarded Sonawar neighbourhood of Srinagar have been shut since the attack.

“His (Akash’s) condition worsened on Thursday and he was put on life support,” said a doctor at Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, where Akash had been admitted.

A day after the attack, police arrested three men, who, they said, had been instructed by a South Kashmir-based Lashkar-e-Toiba militant to carry out the attack. “One of the reasons for targeting the dhaba owner is that he belongs to Jammu and is Hindu,” Inspector General of Police (IGP) Vijay Kumar said on February 18. “The aim (of the attackers) could have been to disturb communal harmony.”

Barely a few hundred metres from the United Nations Observers office in Srinagar, Krishna Dhaba is popular among tourists and has for many decades been the address for vegetarian food in the city.

The Mehras, who originally hail from Jammu, are said to have been careful about keeping local sensibilities in mind.

So whenever separatists called for a shutdown, the dhaba would down its shutters, even if it was during peak tourist season and even as some local shops around it stayed open. Through some of Kashmir’s most troubled years in the 1990s and 2000s, the dhaba would be abuzz in the evenings.

On Sunday, former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were among those who expressed their condolences.

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