Srinagar: Three civilians, including a prominent Kashmiri Pandit chemist, were shot dead by suspected members of The Resistance Front (TRF), the offshoot of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), in less than two hours on Tuesday evening. Two of the victims were killed in Srinagar and the third in north Kashmir’s Shahgund area of Bandipora, according to the police. The incidents shocked Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), which has witnessed, at least, five killings since Saturday.
The chemist, Makhan Lal Bindroo, who owned the famous Bindroo Medicate, was shot from a close range near his shop at Haft Chinar locality, close to the office of Srinagar’s senior superintendent of police is also located. Pistol-borne men barged into his shop and shot him, at least, four times before fleeing from the spot, the police said. Bindroo, 68, was rushed to a hospital but succumbed to his injuries.
Bindroo is survived by his wife, diabetologist son and professor daughter. “My father’s spirit is alive. He died with his shoes on. The killers have only harmed his body, not spirit,” his daughter Smriddi Bindroo said.
Several residents recalled that Bindroo did not leave Kashmir despite the violence against Hindus by former militant outfits, like the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. His family stayed back in the strife-torn Valley when tens of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits started migrating to escape the violence.
About 45 minutes later, around 8.15 pm, suspected militants shot a non-local street hawker identified as Virender Paswan dead. Originally from Bhagalpur, Bihar, Paswan stayed at Zadibal area and was killed in Lal Bazar, around 10 km from Bindroo’s shop, according to the police.
In the third incident, Mohammad Shafi Lone, alias, Sonu, resident of Naidkhai village, was gunned down, the police said. According to official sources, Lone was the president of Sumo taxi stand in the area.
Condemning the back-to-back killings, J&K politicians questioned the security apparatus of the administration. “No words are strong enough to condemn the cowardly and barbaric attack on the owner of Bindroo Medicate in which he lost his life. May his soul rest in peace. We express our sympathy with the bereaved family,” a National Conference spokesperson said.
“There are no words to condemn these killings. Our heads hang in shame. Mr. Bindroo never left his homeland even in the worst of turmoil and continued to make life-saving drugs available to humanity in this part of the world. Is this how he has been repaid for his public services?” Apni Party president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari said in a statement.
Earlier last week, suspected militants shot dead two persons at Karan Nagar and Batamaloo areas of Srinagar. According to the police, the two killings were also believed to have been carried out by TRF. According to official figures, at least, eight persons have been killed in Srinagar city alone this year while as many as 24 civilians have been gunned down across the region, triggering serious security concerns.
Bindroo is the third Hindu victim to have fallen to the bullets of militants, who claimed that the killings are being carried out against those affiliated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or alleged police informers, something that the families of the victims have refuted vehemently.
Earlier, two other prominent businessmen—a goldsmith and a prominent restaurant owner—were shot dead in January and February respectively. The killings were first associated with the government’s new domicile law, which allowed non-state subjects to apply for jobs that were reserved for locals only in view of the so called ‘special status’.
Regional parties had warned of serious fallout as the Centre abrogated Articles 370 and 35 A on August 5, 2019. The decision, taken arbitrarily without the consensus of regional stakeholders, was considered by the BJP leadership as a measure to restore “order and normalcy” in Kashmir.
“With the recent spate of civilian killings in Kashmir GOIs (sic) fake narrative of normalcy lies in tatters. An utterly desensitised govt that has devalued human lives & pushed J&K into further peril & chaos by its ruthless policies of collective punishment all in the garb of security,” Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti tweeted after the killings.
The first such series of targeted killings were carried out in south Kashmir areas by militants in October 2019 in which 11 non-local apple traders, a driver and a few non-Kashmiri labourers were killed