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Kashmiri Pandit Killed in Shopian on way to Apple Orchard

Anees Zargar |
The victim, identified as Puran Krishan Bhat, was shot by attackers while he was on his way to an orchard in the village.

Srinagar: A member of the Kashmiri Pandit community was killed in Choudhary Gund village of Shopian on Saturday in what is seen as a fresh targeted killing being carried out by suspected militants in Jammu and Kashmir. The incident has triggered protests. 

According to the police, the victim, identified as Puran Krishan Bhat, was shot by attackers while he was on his way to an orchard in the village. “He was immediately shifted to a hospital for treatment where he succumbed. Area has been cordoned off and a search is in progress,” the police said in a statement. 

Dozens of members of the community later held a protest against the killing, including in Budgam villages. 

The attack comes in the midst of fear and tension among the minority communities who have faced more than two dozen such attacks this year so far in which as many persons were killed or injured. The attacks heightened in the aftermath of the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A; those who have been targeted include members from the minority communities, Kashmiri Pandits, non-local labourers and Panchayat representatives. According to the data from the Ministry of Home Affairs, over 120 civilians, including six Kashmiri Pandits and 16 Hindus and Sikhs have been killed since the abrogation in 2019.  

This is the second such attack in the South Kashmir district since last month. Earlier on August 16, suspected militants attacked and killed a civilian named Sunil Kumar in the Chotipora village of Shopian. After militants killed a Kashmiri Hindu Rahul Bhat, a revenue official posted in central Kashmir’s Budgam in May, there have been protests by the community while the authorities have been accused of being apathetic towards them. The KP employees posted in the valley also launched a months-long stir demanding a relocation outside. 

Saturday’s killing was widely condemned by mainstream political parties who termed the killing as deplorable. 

“Attack on Puran Krishan Bhat by terrorists in Shopian is a dastardly act of cowardice. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. I assure the people that the perpetrators and those aiding and abetting terrorists will be severely punished,” Office of the Lt Governor tweeted. 

“Another reprehensible attack. I unequivocally condemn this attack in which Pooran Krishan Bhat has lost his life. I send my heartfelt condolences to his family. May Pooran ji’s soul rest in peace,” National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah said. 

While condemning the attacks, Communist Party of India (M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami also called for heightened security measures for minorities to thwart such incidents. The minority community is also demanding the same.

“Pained beyond words by the despicable attack which snuffed out life of Puran Krishan Bhat. There does not seem (to be) any let-up in the killing of innocent people. The government must ensure foolproof security to the minorities [sic],” Tarigami said. 

The Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS), an organisation of resident Kashmiri Pandits, said that nothing has changed for them on the ground despite such incidents and the government’s claims about normalcy on the ground.

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