Civilian killing spree grips Kashmir valley

Five policemen, 3 army personnel and two troopers were also killed in the first three months of the ongoing year. Photo: Ishfaq Reshi/Maktoob

A surge in violence, including a spate of militant attacks on civilians and off duty cops, has left scores dead and over a dozen wounded in the Kashmir valley in the last couple of weeks.

Kashmir, which has witnessed a wave of targeted killings since August 2019, after the Narendra Modi led government abolished Article 370 of the constitution, ending the region’s autonomy, is yet to see an end to the bloodbath.

Who is the target?

While suspected militants carried out multiple attacks in the region in the previous year as well as in the current year, the target, however, apparently are migrant workers, members of the minority communities, and off duty cops.

In the first week of April alone, four non-local workers were injured after being fired upon by suspected militants in the Southern districts of the Kashmir region.

On March 19, militants shot at and injured a non-local carpenter in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The injured Mohammad Akram (40) sustained a bullet injury and was taken to a nearby hospital from where he was taken to a tertiary care hospital in Srinagar for special treatment, police said in a statement.

Akram is a native of Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh. He stays at Arihal in Pulwama, the official said.

On 3rd April, two non-local residents of Punjab were identified as Surinder Singh, a driver, and Dheeraj Dutta, a conductor was injured after being fired upon by suspected militants in Nowpora Litter area of Pulwama district. Both of them were sleeping in their truck when they were attacked by the gunmen in the dead of night.

On April 4, militants carried out three attacks in Srinagar, Pulwama and leaving one Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) dead and four persons, including two workers from Bihar and a Kashmiri Pandit, injured, officials said

In the busy Maisuma chowk in the heart of Srinagar city, two CRPF men were injured when militants opened fire on paramilitary forces in broad daylight. They were rushed to SMHS hospital where one of them – Head Constable Vishal Kumar – succumbed to injuries while the other was undergoing treatment and is said to be stable.

The injured include a 39-year-old chemist, Bal Krishnan, a Kashmiri Pandit who was shot at and injured by suspected militants at Chotigam in Shopian district.

Anil Bhat, brother of Krishna while talking to Maktoob accused the authorities of “non-seriousness” and “indifferent” towards them.

“We have been left on God’s mercy after our sole bread earner was attacked by the rebels. No one has visited us as of yet. We have become a story now,” Bhat told this reporter angrily and hung up the phone.

On the same day, militants opened fire on two non-local labourers in Pulwama district injuring Patleshwar Kumar and Jako Chowdhary, both residents of Bihar, at Lajoora. The duo was rushed to hospital and their condition is said to be stable.

On April 7, a non-local truck driver was shot at and injured by suspected militants in Yader area of Pulwama. He was taken to the hospital where his condition is said to be stable.

Since August 2019, 14 Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus were killed by suspected militants in different incidents of killings, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Nityana Rai said in response to a question in Rajya Sabha.

Spike in targetted killings

In the past month, eight targeted killings were reported in the valley. Among the slain 4 were from central Kashmir’s Budgam district alone, namely Sameer Ahmad Malla – an army cop who was abducted from his home and was killed later, Tajamul Mohiuddin Rather – a civilian, who was shot dead just outside his home in Gotpora area of Budgam, and an SPO Ashfaq Ahmad Dar, and his younger brother Mohammad Umar Dar Chattbug village.

In south Kashmir’s Shopian, an off-duty CRPF man was also shot dead by suspected militants.

Besides, there have been several attacks on Panchayat members, police personnel, and soldiers in the recent past when they were off their duties.

Night patrolling

The police have started night patrolling in remote villages of Kashmir to thwart the targeted militant attacks.

“Police along with the joint forces have started night patrolling in remote villages of Kashmir where non-locals work and Kashmiri Pandits live to prevent militant attacks on soft targets,” Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, Vijay Kumar told reporters in Srinagar.

He said that this is to prevent militants from attacking “soft targets”. Kumar said that the police have identified the militants involved in the recent cases of attacks on non-J&K residents in Pulwama and a Kashmiri Pandit in the remote village of Shopian.

He said that two slain militants killed in the Tral gunfight were involved in the killing of a Sarpanch Sameer Ahmed in Khonmoh besides a series of other attacks including grenade throwing etc. “They were operating in Srinagar and had shifted to Tral recently,” the Kashmir police chief said.

Violence continues in Kashmir

Twenty-four persons were killed in the previous month of March across the Kashmir Valley in different militancy-related incidents including 4 civilians, 2 policemen, army personnel, a panch, 2 sarpanchs, a trooper and 13 militants.

The data reveals that 58 persons have been killed in the first three months of the ongoing year. The month of March witnessed 24 human casualties, followed by January with 23 killings. February recorded 11 killings including 7 militants, a policeman, 2 soldiers, and a civilian. In the ongoing month of April, 5 militants have been killed so far in six gunfights between government forces and militants across the Kashmir valley.

This year to date, joint forces have killed 46 militants including an infiltrator in 32 gunfights. These include 33 local and 13 non-local militants.

Five policemen, 3 army personnel and two troopers were also killed in the first three months of the ongoing year.