NEW DELHI/ KASHMIR: A Kashmiri Pandit was shot dead and injured his cousin on Tuesday at an apple orchard in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.
The number of targeted killings reached to 21 this year. This incident was a chilling reminder of the barbaric killing of a school principal Supinder Kaur last October. Following the series of attacks, KPSS has urged Kashmiri Pandits to vacate the valley.
Terrorists belonging to the banned Al-Badar organisation, came to the orchard this morning and lined up everyone and they segregated Sunil Kumar Bhat and his cousin Pritmber Kumar Bhat after identification and shot indiscriminately on them with their AK-47 rifles, according to police.
Police said that both were immediately taken to a hospital where Sunil Kumar succumbed to injuries. The condition of Pritmber Bhat ‘s condition is said to be stable. Police has identified the assailant as Adil Wani, a categorised terrorist of Al Badar group, and a hunt has been launched to nab him.
Sunil Kumar, who leaves behind four daughters and his wife, was cremated in the evening amid slogans of “Hindu Muslim Sikh Itehad (unity of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs)”.
Meanwhile, in an open letter, Sanjay K. Tickoo, president of KPSS urged all the Kashmiri Pandits to leave the Kashmir Valley. “With another deadly attack on Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir Valley the terrorists have made it clear they are going to kill all the Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir Valley. Irony is local OGWs work with them to kill their neighbours. Kashmir is a place where tourists are safe as no attacks were executed during Amar Nath Yatra but Local Non-Muslims particularly Kashmiri Pandits are vulnerable,” it said.
“Juduciary and Government have failed miserably to protect Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir Valley as such KPSS is appealing all the Kashmiri Pandits to leave Kashmir and dont fall trap to sugar coated statements from Kashmiri Society. No Kashmiri Pandit is Safe in Kashmir Valley. For Kashmiri Pandits only one option left leave Kashmir or get Killed from religiously fanatic minds who have support from local population,” he said.
Qatal-e-Gaarth na manzoor (killing of innocent and destruction are unacceptable) and chants of unity reverberated in the air as villagers of Chotigam took out a procession from the house of Bhat to the cremation ground.
There has been a sudden spike in attacks on minorities, labourers and police personnel in the valley since the beginning of this year. The death toll in targeted attacks has gone up to 21 this year which includes two Kashmiri Pandits.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah condemned the killing and tweeted, “Terribly sad news from South Kashmir today. An accident and a militant attack have left a trail of death and suffering. condemn the militant attack in Shopian unequivocally in which Sunil Kumar was killed and Pinto Kumar injured. My condolences to the family.”
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said Jammu and Kashmir has become cannon fodder in “Delhi’s quest for manufactured normalcy”. “Terribly sorry to hear about the targeted killing in Shopian. Condolences to the deceased’s family. GOI continues to behave like an ostrich with its head buried deep under the sand. Every resident of J&K has become cannon fodder in Delhi’s quest for ‘manufactured normalcy’,” she said.
BJP spokesman Altaf Thakur said, “Strongly condemn the dastardly act of terror on innocent minority community members at Shopian in which Sunil Kumar was killed and another injured. Terror has no religion. Killers should be punished.”
People’s Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone condemned the attack as a “heinous act of violence” and expressed his condolences to the family of the victims.
In June this year, more than 100 Hindu families reportedly fled Kashmir as panic spread after the killing of a Hindu school teacher in Kulgam.