Chief Minister condemns gunning down of teenaged sisters; police say LeT involved

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday condemned the killing of two teenaged sisters. They were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the north Kashmir town of Sopore on Monday night. Police say the Lashkar-e-Taiba is involved.

Mr. Abdullah expressed shock at the incident. “I find it difficult to understand. Under these circumstances, I doubt anybody would have the guts to stand up and say they did it and why they did it,” he said on the sidelines of a function in Delhi on Tuesday.

‘Contradictions'

“I think this in itself brings out the contradictions that exist in Kashmir, because if there was even the slightest indication that these deaths have been the result of high-handedness of the security forces, today the whole Valley would have erupted in flames. But because these killings were by militants, the condemnation is muted or the condemnation does not come at all,” the Chief Minister said.

Witnesses said the gunmen cordoned off three houses and then barged into the house of one Ghulam Nabi Dar in the Muslim Peer area of Sopore late on Monday evening. “They asked the two girls, Arifa [19] and Akhtara [17], to accompany them,” a witness said.

Locals said nearly a dozen gunmen guarded the trio that entered Mr. Dar's house. The people who had gathered there pleaded with them not to take the girls, but the gunmen said they would be set free within half an hour. The girls also put up resistance, but “they were dragged away by the gunmen.”

“As we chased them some hundred metres from the house, I heard one of the gunmen talking on the phone. He was apparently told by the person on the other side to shoot both the girls and he did,” a witness said.

The locals were informed that the bodies were lying in another locality, and the family recovered them around 10 p.m. near a shrine.

Mr. Dar refused to blame any group for the killing. The family lives in abject poverty and one of his sons has been missing for the past four years. Another is studying in the 10th standard.

Mr. Dar added that his daughters were innocent. “I wish I knew what grave sin my daughters have committed.”

Inspector-General of Police (Kashmir zone) S.M. Sahai told The Hindu that preliminary investigations indicated that the militants belonged to the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“Two of them are locals and we have identified them. The third is a foreigner,” Mr. Sahai said, adding that it was difficult to ascertain the angle of the murder at this time.

‘Shame on you'

Earlier, Mr. Abdullah tweeted that the killers were “heartless.”

“If you can't condemn the killing of these two girls, irrespective of your political beliefs, and do so without qualifying it, then shame on you,” his message said.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary M.Y. Tarigami also condemned the incident.

“The government must immediately launch a man-hunt to track down and nab the culprits,” he said. “It should make all efforts to ensure that militants do not raise their heads again in the Valley.”