Kashmir Pandit shot dead, another one injured in militant attack in J&K’s Shopian

Community group asks all Kashmiri Pandits to leave Valley 

Updated - August 16, 2022 08:48 pm IST

Published - August 16, 2022 12:55 pm IST - Srinagar

Security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir. File

Security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir. File | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD

Militants shot dead a Kashmiri Pandit and injured another peerson in an orchard in south Kashmir’s Shopian on August 16, 2022, once again sending shock waves among the members of the minority community in the Valley. A Valley-based Pandit body said the entire community now feels unsafe in Kashmir.

Unidentified militants fired upon the Kashmiri Pandit and the other one when they were busy in their apple orchard in Chotipora area of Shopian, the police said.

The police said the terror incident took place around 11:30 p.m. "Two civilians, identified as Pertimber Nath Bhat son of Arjun Nath Bhat and Sunil Kumar Bhat son of Sri Ji Bhat, both residents of Chotigam Shopian, belonging to minority community, received critical gunshot injuries. Bhat succumbed to his injuries. However, the condition of other injured person is stated to be stable," the police said.

The police said an investigation was in progress and the officers "continue to work to establish the full circumstances of this terror crime".

Sunil Kumar, who was shot from a close range, died on the spot. Another person, Pitambar Nath Pandit, sustained injuries in the attack and was shifted to the Army hospital in Srinagar.

In a state of shock, the family members finding it hard to reconcile with what has dawned on them. They demanded justice, as the victim’s body was handed over to the family that decided to stay back in the 1990s, when the majority from the community decided to leave the Valley in the face of raging violence in the Valley.

Also read | Policeman, injured in Srinagar shootout, dies: J&K Police 

It’s for the second time that militants attacked Kashmiri Pandits in Shopian’s Chotipora this year. In April, a Pandit shopkeeper, Sonu Kumar, was shot in his shop and left injured.

“We approached the deputy commissioner, Shopian, and the divisional commissioner, to increase security in our area. They did nothing. They are responsible for these killings,” Kumar’s brother said.

Kashmir witnessed a string of attacks on members of minority community members this year, in which a Pandit employee, Rahul Bhat, and a school teacher from Jammu, Rajni Bala, were killed.

Since the killings, the migrant Pandit employees, recruited under the Prime Minister return and rehabilitation package, have boycotted offices in the Valley despite their postings “to secure the district headquarters”.

Now, a fresh wave of attacks was launched this week by militants against non-local workers and members of minorities in Kashmir this month. Two grenade attacks were carried out on Pandits this week in Kashmir’s Budgam and Pulwama. Karan Kumar Singh was injured in a grenade on Monday in Budgam’s Gopalpora area. A migrant labourer was killed in Bandipora on August 12.

Growing fear among the Pandits is palpable. Kashmiri Pandit Sangarash Samiti (KPSS), an organisation of those Kashmiri Pandits who did not leave in the 1990s, has said terrorists seem to make it clear they will go after all Pandits living in the Kashmir valley.

“The KPSS requests all the Kashmiri Pandits to leave the Kashmir Valley. With another deadly attack on Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir Valley, the terrorists have made it clear they are going to kill all the Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir Valley,” KPSS chairman Sanjay Tickoo said.

He said irony is local over ground workers work with the militants “to kill their neighbours”.

“Kashmir is a place where tourists are safe as no attacks were executed during the Amarnath Yatra but local non-Muslims, particularly Kashmiri Pandits are vulnerable,” he said.

Mr. Tickoo said the judiciary and the government have failed miserably to protect Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir Valley.

“Kashmiri Pandits should leave Kashmir and not fall trap to sugar coated statements from Kashmiri society. Kashmiri Pandits are left with only one option to leave Kashmir or get killed by religious fanatic minds, who have support from the local population,” Mr. Tickoo said.

Meanwhile, J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, who visited injured Pandit in the hospital, said, “I am pained beyond words on despicable terror attack on civilians in Shopian. The attack deserves strongest condemnation from everyone. Terrorists responsible for the barbaric act will not be spared.”

J&K’s regional parties have condemned the attack. “Terribly sorry to hear about the targeted killing in Shopian. The Government of India continues to behave like an ostrich with its head buried deep under the sand. Every resident of J&K has become cannon fodder in Delhi’s quest for ‘manufactured normalcy’,” former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said.

National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah said, “I condemn the militant attack in Shopian unequivocally”.

Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone described the attack as dastardly. “Yet another dastardly attack by coward terrorists in Shopian. We strongly condemn this heinous act of violence,” Mr. Lone said.

Meanwhile, local Muslims took the victim's body in a procession and raised slogans that "killing of innocent people is unacceptable" and "stop bloodshed". They also raised the slogans that Hindus, Muslims are brothers.

Additional General of Police Vijay Kumar appreciated the efforts of the villagers, who held protest and condemned the killing of innocent civilians.

"As per eyewitness, a categorized terrorist of Al Badr, Adil Wani from Shopian's Kutpora, was behind the attack. The second (attacker) was an over ground worker. We are working on it and both will be either arrested or neutralised in an encounter soon," ADGP Kumar told The Hindu.

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