More civilians than security forces have been killed this year in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in various terrorist related incidents. The targetted killing of civilians that includes prominent citizens and non-locals in the Valley reverses the trend of the past six years, data shows.
Till October 5, 2021, as many as 22 civilians were killed in the Valley as compared to 20 security personnel in the same period.
In 2020, the number of civilians who were killed stood at 33, while the number of killed security forces was 46 and in the year 2019 it was 36 civilians and 78 security personnel respectively.
On Tuesday, Makhan Lal Bindroo, a well-known pharmacist in Srinagar was killed by terrorists when he was in his shop. The Resistance Front (TRF), which the police believe is a front for the Pakistan based Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) has claimed responsibility for the killing. The group said Bindroo was killed as he worked for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
J&K Director General of Police Dilbag Singh told The Hindu that the killings were done “to create a communal situation” and instil a sense of fear among the minorities here. He said the killing of civilians was a worrying trend.
Another senior government official said there are inputs to suggest serious attempts to target prominent businessmen in the Valley and Jammu region. At least two such previous attempts have been foiled.
“Innocent people who had nothing to do with any group were killed. This is a terrorist incident, it was done to send a message to minorities who have been staying here peacefully for decades. Mr. Bindroo never left the Valley. The street vendor was killed because they do not want anyone from outside to come and work here... The signal has come from across the border,” Mr. Singh said. He added that the taxi owner was killed on suspicion of being a police informer.
A street vendor from Bihar, Virendra Paswan and Mohammad Shafi Lone, the president of the Taxi Association in North Kashmir’s Bandipora were also killed on Tuesday. The TRF accused Lone of being a police informer.
Mr. Singh said a pistol was used in all the three killings.
“TRF is run from Karachi. We recently killed Abbas Sheikh, TRF’s leader in an operation. Some people associated with TRF who were working as over ground workers became active and resorted to the civilian killings,” Mr. Singh said.
He added that as of now no leadership of terrorist groups remained active in the Valley.
“All sections of Kashmiri society have condemned the killings. The street vendor’s killing reflects the sign of intolerance for non-locals by the terror groups,” he said.
Former MP and senior People’s Conference leader Nazir Ahmad Laway said the act was an attempt to create communal disharmony in the region.
The killings come at a time when a battery of Union ministers have been visiting the newly created Union Territory as part of government’s mega outreach programme. Home Minister Amit Shah is expected to visit later this month.