A 27-year-old circus performer from Jammu’s Udhampur was shot dead by militants in south Kashmir’s Anantnag on Monday night, the assailants apparently taking advantage of the relatively relaxed security arrangement following the recent completion of the G20 meeting.
Officials said Deepu Kumar was shot at by bike-borne militants at Anantnag’s Janglat Mandi after he stepped out to buy milk around 8.30pm. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead.
Kumar hailed from Udhampur’s Thail village where he lived in a single-storey mud house with his family. He left behind his pregnant wife, a visually impaired brother and an aged father.
Videos showing Kumar’s wife and other family members crying inconsolably have surfaced on social media. Kumar’s body was taken to his village for cremation on Tuesday.
“Terrorists fired upon one civilian namely Deepu R/O Udhampur working at a private circus mela at anamusement park near Janglat Mandi in Anantnag. He was taken to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. Case registered, investigation going on,” J&K police said in atweet.
Circus owner Abhi Sharma said they had spent weeks in Janglat Mandi and were preparing to shift the circus to some other place. “He (Kumar) was expecting his first child. It’s sad that he is no more,” Sharma said.
Sharma said they had held several shows in the Valley over the years but never faced such a situation.
BJP leaders, led by state vice-president Pawan Khajuria, visited Kumar’s home in Udhampur to take part in the mourning.
Khajuria blamed Pakistan for the killing and hoped the government would give a befitting reply. He raised anti-Pakistan slogans.
On the BJP’s repeated claims that militancy has been controlled in Kashmir, Khajuria said the killing was a result of Pakistan’s frustration over the “successful G20 meeting” in Srinagar. “They asked for his name (before killing him). They will be given a befitting reply,” he said.
Jammu and Kashmirhad beefed up security measures in the run-up to three-day G20 meeting in Srinagarthat ended on May 25. It was the first major international event in the region after the scrapping of special status in 2019.
Lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha said the government and the entire nation were standing shoulder to shoulder with the bereaved family and promised all efforts “to bring the perpetrators to justice”.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah said he was pained “by the news of yet another targeted attack against a civilian in Anantnag area of south Kashmir”.