Srinagar: A salesman in Srinagar’s Bohri Kadal market was shot dead from close range by suspected militants on Monday evening , making him the latest casualty in the series of target attacks in the region.
Identified as Mohammad Ibrahim Khan, 45, the injured man was rushed to a nearby SMHS hospital but succumbed to his injuries. A resident of North Kashmir’s Ashtangu Ghat in the Bandipora district, Khan reportedly had at least two bullet injuries near his abdomen.
Soon after the attack, the police cordoned the entire city and launched a massive hunt to nab the killers. A case was also filed in the local police station following which an investigation in the incident was initiated. ‘
Khan is the second victim of within 24 hours after suspected militants shot dead a policeman outside his residence in the city’s Batamaloo area, about five km away from where Monday’s attack was carried out.
Violence in Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a sudden spike with increase in militant attacks in both Jammu and Kashmir provinces. Since October, about 15 civilians have been killed in Kashmir, including members of the minority communities and non-local labourers. The militants are targeting individuals they later dub as either police informers or a threat to regional demographics.
The militant groups, including the newly established The Resistance Front (TRF), United Liberation Front (ULF) and People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF), have warned of dire consequences of what they term as a plan to alleged “settlement” of non-Kashmiris population in region. Many in the security establishment have refuted these claims and termed these groups an extension of militant outfits such as Lashkar e Toiba (LeT), Jaish e Mohammad (JeM) and Tehreek ul Mujahideen (TuM), groups that were formed in the 1990s by Pakistan based handlers.
Khan reportedly worked for a Kashmiri Hindu businessman, who had re-established his business in the city’s spice market in 2019. His return to the market was considered as a sign of increasing confidence amongst the community.
The situation, however, worsened after the Central government abrogated Article 370 and 35 A and divided erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories despite opposition from the regional political parties, who had warned of a serious fallout.
The fresh spate of killings is seen by many, including the civil society and former ministers as one of the worst outcomes of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s mishandling of the territory.
“The security situation in J&K has deteriorated to an extent where not a week goes by when an innocent doesn't lose his life. Unfortunate, that despite repressive measures taken in name of security, people are being killed & have no sense of dignity or normalcy. Condolences to his family,” Peoples Demorcratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.
Attacks have increased particularly in Srinagar city, which witnessed a hot summer this year, after years of relative lull and no militant recruitments. “Today there are a few active militants from the city itself and has become one of the main area of interest for militant groups. They believe that striking in the crowd would lead to more fear and disruption,” a security official told NewsClick.
The killings come at a time when armed forces are engaged in a near month long operation in Jammu’s Rajouri-Poonch region, where militants believed to be highly trained have killed nine army soldiers since it started on October 11. Following the target attacks in Kashmir Valley a security review was carried out in the region attended by top officials of the armed forces, covert agencies and UT administration and was headed by union home minister Amit Shah who was on a three-day visit to J&K.
“The never-ending cycle of violence! Unreservedly condemn the brutal murder of salesman Muhammad Ibrahim Khan in Srinagar’s Downtown. May Allah grant him a place in Jannat. May his family find strength during this difficult time,” a National Conference (NC) spokesperson said in a statement.