Unidentified militants on Wednesday shot dead a civilian who played key role in promoting Himayat — Union government’s ambitious capacity building initiative for the unemployed youth of Jammu and Kashmir — in Sopore.

Superintendent of Police Imtiyaz Hussain Mir said that the 45-year-old Kifayat Hussain Mir of Bohripora had just arrived on the premises of his Himayat centre and automobile workshop at Shakkar Gund, on Sopore-Kupwara Road, when two gunmen called him and shot him dead. The unidentified men used a Pakistani-made 9-mm Shaheen pistol, an indication of their being the cadres of Hizbul Mujahideen.

Father of three children, Mr. Mir was taken to hospital but doctors on examination declared him ‘brought dead.’ One of the senior officials told The Hindu that the police and security forces launched a manhunt for the top wanted Hizbul Mujahideen militant Qayoom Najjar, who was the prime suspect. No militant outfit had so far claimed responsibility for the killing.

Mr. Mir had unsuccessfully contested Assembly elections from Sopore in 2008. On account of his known connections to some politicians and police officers, and a serious threat perception, he was provided four personal security officers (PSOs). Only one of them was present at the Himayat centre on Wednesday. When he came down after the firing, he found Mr. Mir almost dead.

Informed sources said that Mr. Mir had prominently promoted Himayat programme in his locality. On April 7 this year, he organized a function for the Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh at the Himayat centre when the valley was reeling under shutdown called by the separatist Hurriyat Conference to protest Afzal Guru’s execution as also to demand returning of his mortal remains to the family.