Killing fuels fresh wave of fear among minorities in Kashmir

The incident in Shopian has sent shock waves through the Pandit community in the Valley

August 16, 2022 09:57 pm | Updated August 17, 2022 09:52 am IST - SRINAGAR

Life in fear: Wife of Sunil Kumar crying near her husband’s body in Chotipora area of Shopian on August 16, 2022.

Life in fear: Wife of Sunil Kumar crying near her husband’s body in Chotipora area of Shopian on August 16, 2022. | Photo Credit: Nissasr Ahmad

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

Unidentified militants fired upon the two Pandit men when they were busy in their apple orchard in the Chotipora area of Shopian, the police said. Sunil Kumar, who was shot at from a close range, died on the spot. The other person, Pitambar Nath Pandit, sustained injuries in the attack and was shifted to the Army hospital in Srinagar.

The police said the terror incident took place around 11.30 p.m. “Two civilians, identified as Pitambar 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 the other injured person is stated to be stable,” the police said.

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

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

It’s for the second time that militants have 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 has witnessed a string of attacks on members of the minority community this year, with a Pandit employee, Rahul Bhat, and a school teacher from Jammu, Rajni Bala, killed. 

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

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

The growing fear among Pandits is palpable. The Kashmiri Pandit Sangarash Samiti (KPSS), an organisation of Kashmiri Pandits who did not leave in the 1990s, has said the terrorists seem to be targeting 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 the 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 it was ironic that 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,” Mr. Tickoo said.

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

“Kashmiri Pandits should leave Kashmir and not fall into the trap of 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, Jammu & Kashmir’s Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha, who visited the injured Pandit in the hospital, said, “I am pained beyond words on the 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 also 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.

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

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.

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 slogans that Hindus and Muslims are brothers.

Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Vijay Kumar appreciated the efforts of the villagers who held protests and condemned the killing of innocent civilians.

“As per eyewitnesses, a categorised terrorist of Al Badr, Adil Wani from Shopian’s Kutpora, was behind the attack. The second [attacker] was an over ground worker,” Mr. Kumar told The Hindu.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.