THREE KILLINGS over the last three days — all shot in the head, from point-blank range, by “unidentified” gunmen. As police blame militants, and separatists allege the role of security agencies, the sudden spurt of killings in the Valley has triggered fear and panic.
* The latest victim was Abdul Ahad Ganai (42), a resident of Kupwara in North Kashmir. Ganai was shot while he was travelling in his vehicle, in Khanyar neighbourhood of Srinagar, on Monday night. Ganai was pursuing his doctorate from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and was also working as a teacher at a private institute in Srinagar. Police blamed militants for his death.
* On Saturday morning, Hakeem-ur-Rehman Sultani (45) was shot by unidentified gunmen in Bomai village of Sopore. The police claimed he was killed by Liqayat Ahmad Lone, a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant who was killed in an encounter in Handwara on Tuesday.
Sultani was an activist of the Syed Ali Shah Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference and had been released only recently, after spending 20 months in jail under the Public Safety Act. He was shot in the neck and chest from point-blank range. A cloth merchant who spearheaded a successful campaign for removal of an Army camp from his village, Sultani is survived by his wife and five daughters.
* Asif Nazir Dar (22), a resident of Panzgam in Pulwama, South Kashmir, died on the spot after he was shot in the head at Naseem Bagh, in Hazaratbal, Srinagar, on Saturday. Police said Dar had joined militancy a year ago, and was first associated with Hizbul Mujahideen, but later switched to the Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK). The police blamed his death on militants, saying “it seems like this is one group against the other”.
Besides the three deaths, a woman was injured when the vehicle she was travelling in came under fire in Pulwama, South Kashmir, on Saturday. While the Islamic State has claimed credit for Ganai’s death, calling him an “Indian intelligence officer”, militants and separatists have blamed security agencies for the killings.
“The invisible hand of Indian agencies in the gruesome killings cannot be ruled out,” said the joint separatist leadership, comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik. “It is a matter of grave concern that there is a revival of custodial as well as mysterious killings in Jammu and Kashmir to trigger group clashes and anarchy.”