Srinagar: Days after a truck-driver from Rajasthan was killed by militants in South Kashmir’s Shopian, a labourer from Chhattisgarh was shot dead by suspected militants in Pulwama’s Nihama village here on Wednesday, October 16.
The police identified the victim as Sethi Kumar Sagar, who was working at a brick kiln in Pulwama, around 20 km from Srinagar. The incident occurred at about 12:30 PM, according to police, after Sagar left the brick-kiln with another brick worker.
“He was shot at by militants close to where he worked and died on the spot,” a police official said.
According to another kiln-worker, Sagar was working at the kiln since June this year and had not left the valley even when most of the non-locals had left Kashmir due to the ongoing crisis post abrogation of Article 370.
“He said he was not feeling well and was going to see a doctor,’’ the worker said, wishing anonymity. He added that Sagar was advised by his employer not to venture out due to the prevailing tension in Kashmir. Sagar’s associate, who was with him when the incident happened, is currently being questioned by police.
Eyewitnesses said they rushed to the spot after they heard a gunshot but found the body of the slain “lying on the road in a pool of blood”. The body was later shifted to the Primary Health Centre in Pulwama, before sending it for post-mortem.
The police have filed an FIR and launched an investigation to nab the assailants. Security has been beefed up in the area and several cordon and search operations have been laid in several areas of South Kashmir following the incident.
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This is the second attack against non-locals in Kashmir in the last three days. Earlier, a truck driver and his associate were attacked by suspected militants resulting in the killing of Sharif Khan, a resident of Rajasthan.
Being the second incident, the killing is being seen by many in Kashmir in the backdrop of a new drift in militant attacks with non-locals as the main targets of militant violence.
A local in Pulwama said she has witnessed such an attack by militants for the first time in the locality. “Non-local labourers have worked here for so many years despite so much of violence, but they were never attacked. I feel really sad today,” she said.
Ahead of the government’s decision of abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories on August 5, tourists in Kashmir had been directed by the government to leave the valley following which tens of thousands of non-local workers had also left. A few, however, had stayed back.
The two militant attacks occurred days after the government issued another advisory terming Kashmir safe for tourism. The attack on non-locals, many believe, has changed that.
“It is not safe any more to travel or work here. Kashmir has changed,” a truck-driver from Amritsar Kulbir Singh said.
Update: In another attack in Trenz of Shopian, a fruit vendor named Charanjeet Singh has lost his life while another vendor named Sanju has been admitted with serious injuries in SMHS hospital of Srinagar.