Srinagar: One person was killed and three others were left injured after suspected militants hurled a hand grenade in a recently opened wine shop at Dewan Bagh village of Baramulla in North Kashmir Tuesday evening.
According to J&K Police, the grenade blast that was carried out at about 8:30 pm injured four employees of the wine shop, following which one of them, identified as 52-year-old Ranjit Singh of Rajouri district, later succumbed to his injuries.
The attackers believed to be two in number, with one of them wearing a Burkha, were able to flee from the spot.
The police said all the victims hailed from the Jammu division. Those injured in the attack were identified as Goverdan Singh and Govind Sigh – both 35 years old – and 36-year-old Ravi Kumar.
All the injured are being treated at the hospital, where their condition is said to be "out of danger". The police and security forces immediately cordoned off the entire area and launched a search operation to follow the attacker's trail.
As soon as the body of the slain Ranjit Singh reached the Rajouri area, the family and other mourners held a protest in the area, demanding compensation. A local news agency Kashmir News Observer reported that scores of villagers from Bakhar and neighbouring villages blocked the Rajouri-Poonch highway.
The protesters are demanding an ex-gratia relief of Rs 25 lakh for the victim and a government job for one of the nearest of his kin. Singh is said to be the lone breadwinner of the family, which included his four daughters and a minor son.
The grenade attack in Dewan Bagh has triggered panic in the area as wine shops are now part of the list of soft spots that militants are targeting. The incident comes when the Kashmiri Pandits community in the region is protesting to enhance security in the wake of a targeted killing of one of the members Rahul Bhat in central Kashmir's Budgam area. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the UT administration led by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha have been criticised by many, including regional political leadership, for "mishandling" the volatile territory.
There have been protests in the Muslim majority Kashmir against opening wine shops. Wine outlets in the valley were closed at the beginning of the 1990s after militant outfits like Allah Tigers issued a decree against them. Singh's killing in the incident was widely condemned by local parties who termed it unfortunate.
“Unfortunate loss of lives in Baramulla Wine shop attack. Wish those who eagerly pushed the opening of wine shops had been wiser. They should have known these shops would become soft targets. Especially when the security atmosphere is so fragile and the administration utterly clueless," People's Conference spokesperson Adnan Mir said.