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Home / India / J&K militant attack: Kashmiri Pandit shot dead, brother injured

J&K militant attack: Kashmiri Pandit shot dead, brother injured

Police official identified deceased as Sunil Kumar and injured as Pintu Kumar
Pintu Kumar, a Kashmiri Pandit who was shot at by militants, being treated at a hospital, in J&K's Shopian district
Pintu Kumar, a Kashmiri Pandit who was shot at by militants, being treated at a hospital, in J&K's Shopian district
PTI picture

PTI   |   Srinagar   |   Published 16.08.22, 12:52 PM

Terrorists shot dead a Kashmiri Pandit and injured his brother on Tuesday at an apple orchard in Jammu and Kashmir's Shopian district, which had seen similar attacks on the minority community in April.

The victim Sunil Kumar Pandit had gone with his brother Pitambar Nath Pandit alias Pintu to his orchard in Chotigam village of Shopian along with their cattle when they were attacked with AK-47 assault rifle.

"Terrorists fired upon civilians in an apple orchard in Chotipora area of #Shopian. One person died and one injured. Both belong to minority community. Injured person has been shifted to hospital. Area #cordoned off. Further details shall follow," a police spokesperson tweeted.

According to police officials, two terrorists came to the orchard in the forenoon. While one started firing with his AK-47 rifle on the brothers, the other captured the act on his mobile phone camera.

Sunil Kumar, who leaves behind four daughters and his wife, died on the spot, and his brother was battling for life at an army hospital here.

Terrorists had struck in the same village in April when they opened fire on Kashmiri Pandit chemist Balkrishen Bhat alias Sonu Kumar, who miraculously escaped death. He was injured and remained in hospital for a long period.

After the incident, the administration had assured that the presence of security forces where minorities were living would be increased.

There has been a sudden spike in attacks on minorities, labourers and police personnel in the valley since the beginning of this year. The death toll in targeted attacks has gone up to 21 this year which includes two Kashmiri Pandits.

An obscure Kashmir Freedom Fighter group claimed responsibility for the attack but security forces believe it to be an act by the terrorists of banned Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Heated arguments were witnessed outside the residence of the victim when officials from the administration visited the family. The brother of Balkrishen Bhat confronted the officials and accused them of failing in their duties to ensure the safety of minorities.

"After my brother was shot, I personally met the Deputy Commissioner of Shopian and Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir for our safety. They told me nothing can be done and we should continue to stay where we live," Anil Bhat claimed.

An agitated Bhat held the administration responsible for the killing and alleged it has failed in its duty to safeguard people's safety.

There are only two or three Kashmiri Pandit families in Chotigam, nearly 10 km from the Shopian district headquarters and 70 km from Srinagar. The region is a hotbed of terrorism and is considered a stronghold of the terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Moahmmed.

The incident shook the minority community, which was already reeling under fear following the killing of an employee Rahul Bhat in May. A call for fresh exodus from the valley was issued by Kashmir Pandit Sangharash Samiti (KPSS), an organisation which has been taking up the cause with the government in the valley.

The increased terror attacks in the past week have left the security agencies worried as the terrorists have now again started targeting members of minority community, police personnel and outside labourers.

A policeman was killed in Nowhatta on Sunday and a migrant labourer was shot dead in Bandipora last week. Two grenade attacks took place in Budgam -- in which a Kashmir Pandit civilian was injured -- and in the Police Control Room at Srinagar on Monday.

Following the back-to-back attacks, KPSS has asked the community members to leave the valley.

"With another deadly attack on Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir, the terrorists have made it clear that they are going to kill all the Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir valley," KPSS chief Sanjay Tickoo said.

He said he has urged all Kashmiri Pandits to leave the valley and move to safer places like Jammu and Delhi.

He claimed that the victims of Tuesday's attack had approached senior officials of the administration to move them to safer places in view of the intelligence inputs that suggested that terrorists might target more minority community members.

"It is ironic that the officials told them that they have to live in their villages. What is the deal here? They have inputs about possible attacks and yet they do not secure us," he said.

Tuesday's killings saw widespread condemnation from administration and political parties.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said that he was "pained beyond words on the despicable terror attack on civilians in Shopian. My thoughts are with the family of Sunil Kumar. Praying for a speedy recovery of the injured. The attack deserves the strongest condemnation from everyone. Terrorists responsible for the barbaric act will not be spared".

Condemning the killing, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted, "Terribly sad news from South Kashmir today. An accident and a militant attack have left a trail of death and suffering. I condemn the militant attack in Shopian unequivocally in which Sunil Kumar was killed and Pinto Kumar injured. My condolences to the family."

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti while condemning the killing said Jammu and Kashmir has become cannon fodder in "Delhi's quest for manufactured normalcy".

"Terribly sorry to hear about the targeted killing in Shopian. Condolences to the deceased's family. GOI 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'," she said.

BJP spokesman Altaf Thakur said, "Strongly condemn the dastardly act of terror on innocent minority community members at Shopian in which Sunil Kumar was killed and another injured. Terror has no religion. Killers should be punished."

People's Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone condemned the attack as a "heinous act of violence" and expressed his condolences to the family of the victims.

Several groups staged protests against the killing and demanded adequate measures to ensure safety of the minority community members in the valley.

The protesters, who gathered at different places including Rani Park, Press Club and Panama chowk in the heart of Jammu, also raised slogans against Pakistan and the terrorists besides criticising the government for its alleged failure to stop targeted and selective killings.

A group of people also staged a protest at district headquarters in the border town of Poonch.

In January, one policeman was killed in a targeted attack in Anantnag. March saw the highest of seven such killings -- five civilians and an on-leave CRPF jawan in Shopian and a special police officer (SPO) in Budgam. The brother of the SPO also lost his life in the same attack.

In April, two civilians, including a sarpanch, were killed, while in May, five persons -- two cops and three civilians -- were killed. The civilians were Rahul Bhat, a government employee recruited under the prime minister's special package for Kashmir Pandits, TV actor Amreen Bhat, and teacher Rajini Bhala.

In June, a non-local bank manager and a non-local labourer were shot dead by terrorists, while a sub-inspector of police was also killed. Two non-local labourers have been killed so far in August.

Militants have stepped up attacks in the Kashmir valley over the past week. A total of 15 civilians and six security forces personnel have been killed in targeted attacks this year.

A policeman was killed in Nowhatta on Sunday and a migrant labourer from Bihar was shot dead in Bandipora last week.

The migrant labourer Mohd Amrez was the fourth non-local to be killed in a targeted attack in Kashmir this year.

Two grenade attacks also took place in Budgam and Srinagar districts on Monday.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and political leaders of various parties have condemned the killing in Shopian district.

"Pained beyond words on the despicable terror attack on civilians in Shopian. My thoughts are with the family of Sunil Kumar. Praying for a speedy recovery of the injured. The attack deserves the strongest condemnation from everyone. Terrorists responsible for the barbaric act will not be spared," Sinha tweeted.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah also condemned the killing.

"Terribly sad news from South Kashmir today. An accident and a militant attack have left a trail of death and suffering. I condemn the militant attack in Shopian unequivocally in which Sunil Kumar was killed and Pinto Kumar injured. My condolences to the family," he said.

BJP spokesman Altaf Thakur said, "Strongly condemn the dastardly act of terror on innocent minority community members at Shopian in which Sunil Kumar was killed and another injured. Terror has no religion. Killers should be punished."

People's Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone condemned the attack as a "heinous act of violence" and expressed his condolences to the family of the victims.

Meanwhile, the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharash Samiti (KPSS) has asked the community members to leave the valley in wake of the increased attacks on them by the militants.

"With another deadly attack on Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir, the terrorists have made it clear that they are going to kill all the Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir valley," KPSS chief Sanjay Tickoo said.

Tickoo said he has urged all Kashmiri Pandits to leave the valley and move to safer places like Jammu and Delhi.

"We have seen this for the last 32 years now. The government has failed in providing security to minorities, especially Kashmiri Pandits. How long are we going to die like this? Enough is enough," he told PTI.

The KPSS chief claimed the victims of Tuesday's attack had approached senior officials of the administration to move them to safer places in view of the intelligence inputs that suggested that terrorists might target more minority community members.



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