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Govt’s New Public Outreach Programme in Kashmir Attacked

Anees Zargar |
Suspected militants kill two persons, including a sarpanch, injure several others at a function in South Kashmir’s Hakura village.
Back to Village

Image Used for Representational Purpose

Srinagar: The government’s flagship outreach programme ‘Back to Village’ faced its first roadblock after unidentified gunmen attacked a function in South Kashmir’s Hakura village, killing at least two persons and injuring several others on Tuesday.

According to police, suspected militants hurled a grenade and then fired at a function being held at a local panchayat ghar, killing Peer Syed Rafiq and Zahoor Ahmad on the spot. Another person, who was grievously injured and has been identified by the police as Manzoor Ahmad, has been rushed to a Srinagar hospital.

Peer Syed, who ran a non-government organisation, worked as a sarpanch, while Zahoor worked in the state agriculture department. The area where the attack was carried out was cordoned off by police and security forces and have initiated an investigation in the incident. 

The government’s ‘Back to Village’ campaign, an outreach programme aimed to provide governance at the doorsteps of rural people and involve community participation, began on Monday.

In its second phase, the week-long public outreach is the first major region-wide programme after the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of J&K, that aimed to encourage government-public interaction.

The people, according to an official involved in the programme, are not welcoming, as they were in the first phase of the government campaign. The employee claimed the people are, in fact, hostile this time.

The situation in Kashmir continues to simmer as suspected militants have enforced shutdown in many parts of Valley with threatening posters and intermittent attacks on shops. More than three months have passed since the government abrogated Article 370 and downsized the region into two Union territories. After the government clampdown, people observed a civilian shutdown, the enforcement of which  intensified last week after the Centre declared the ‘return of normalcy’ in the Valley.

In the past few days, more than a dozen shops were allegedly burned down by suspected miscreants in parts of Srinagar and Anantnag as a measure to impose a shutdown in the region.

Tuesday’s attack in Hakura village came hours after what the police termed a ‘low-intensity blast’ outside the University of Kashmir campus in Srinagar that left at least four persons injured.

The attack raises concerns over the security of over 5,000 gazetted officers and more than 650 UT and directorate-level officers involved in the outreach programme.

Pertinently, former Union minister Yashwant Sinha led a civil society group and was barred from visiting South Kashmir areas on Sunday after the police’s security department informed the group of an “impending terrorist threat” keeping in view the “volatility of the area.”

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