Militants on Monday targeted the office of a BSNL franchise in North Kashmir’s Sopore town, leaving one dead and two others seriously injured.
Sopore SP Abdul Qayoom said: “The militants fired indiscriminately towards the franchise office at Noorbagh, leaving the owner, an employee and a customer injured. Later, one of the injured, Mohammad Rafiq, succumbed to his injuries at the hospital.’’
This is the first time militants have targeted the franchise office of any telecom operator in the Valley. The attack has triggered panic among franchise owners.
In the past few weeks, the militants have been issuing warnings to franchise owners of various telecom operators, asking them to close down their business in Sopore and its adjacent areas.
This comes after police, nearly two weeks ago, seized a wireless booster belonging to the militants. The equipment had been fixed to a cellular company’s tower to boost wireless signals and aid communication between militants, police said.
The militants blamed telecom operators for handing over the equipment to the army. They also blamed telecom companies for providing their phone numbers to the army and police.
Sources said that after the equipment was seized, the militants raided franchise offices of various cellular companies and houses where cellular towers are installed.
According to the employee of a franchise office, masked men raided their office a few days ago.
“They asked us to either return the equipment seized by the army or stop operations in the town,” he said.
Even small shopkeepers were asked to stop selling recharge coupons of various cellular operators.
On Sunday, the militants had hurled two grenades at a house at Sopore’s Kralteng locality, where a cellular tower is installed.
Last week, residents of Shiva, Dooru, Dangerpora villages — whose houses had cellular towers installed on them – had been warned. Also, an outfit by the name of Lashkar- e-Islam had pasted posters in the town, asking cellular companies to shut down their business.
Officials, however, said the militant threat is limited to Sopore town and operations in other parts of the Valley are running smoothly.