For the best experience, open
on your mobile browser or Download our App.

J&K: Civilian Shot Dead in Anantnag; Second Targeted Attack in a Week as Polls Near

The Union government continues to maintain that normalcy has returned to J&K following the reading down of Article 370.
Anantnag on Google Maps.

New Delhi: A civilian was shot dead in Anantnag district on Wednesday evening, April 17, triggering anguish and panic in parts of south Kashmir which is heading to the Lok Sabha polls on May 7.

A J&K Police spokesperson said that the victim identified as Raju Shah, son of Shankar Shah, a resident of Bihar who had been staying at Bilal Colony in Jablipora village of Anantnag’s Bijbehara area to make a living, was shot multiple times by unidentified militants on Wednesday evening.

Sources said that the victim was taken to the government hospital in Bijbehara town for treatment where he succumbed to injuries. An official said that the victim had suffered lethal gunshot injuries in neck and abdomen which caused instant death.

This is the second targeted attack on civilians in south Kashmir in a week and the third such incident in the Valley this year, even as the Union government continues to maintain that normalcy has returned to J&K following the reading down of Article 370.

The uptick in violence coincides with the approaching Lok Sabha election which will be the first major electoral exercise in Jammu and Kashmir after the erstwhile state was downgraded and bifurcated into two union territories on August 5, 2019.

Anantnag district, where the attack took place on Wednesday, is part of the delimited Pir Panjal constituency, which will vote in the third phase of Lok Sabha election on May 7. The attack took place on a day when the poll campaigning picked pace in south Kashmir parts.

Electoral politics

Earlier in the day, former Chief Ministers of J&K, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, presided over separate public rallies in Larnoo of Anantnag district and Devsar of Kulgam district which is also part of the Pir Panjal constituency. Mehbooba is filing her nomination papers from the constituency on Thursday, April 18.

The new constituency includes Rajouri and Poonch districts which were part of Jammu Lok Sabha constituency before the 2022 delimitation exercise and two assembly segments – Budgam and Beerwah – of Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency.

Mehbooba is facing the tribal leader of National Conference, Mian Altaf Larvi, who enjoys significant support of the tribal Gujjars and Bakkerwals populating the Poonch and Rajouri districts which are spread in the foothills of the Pir Panjal mountains.

The newly floated Apni party, headed by businessman-turned-politician and former PDP leader Altaf Bukhari, has fielded former J&K councillor Zaffar Manhas, another former PDP leader, from the constituency.

In a surprising move, former Congress leader and president of the recently floated Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP), Ghulam Nabi Azad, said on Wednesday that he was pulling out of the contest, a day after he was nominated by his party for the race.

Without any explanation, the party said that advocate Saleem Parray will be the DPAP candidate from the constituency.

The BJP has also officially announced that it will not field any candidate for the Pir Panjal constituency which political observers see as a strategic move to benefit the candidate of Bukhari, who is in an unofficial alliance with the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir.

Uptick in violence

The Pir Panjal region has witnessed a spate of targeted attacks over the last two years that have inflicted high casualties on security forces. On September 12, an Army colonel and Major, and a Deputy Superintendent of Police were killed in a surprise attack in Anantnag’s Kokernag.

A local commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba, who was later killed in a gunfight along with a foreigner, was involved in the attack.

Earlier on Wednesday, the J&K police claimed to have arrested two suspected militant associates in the adjoining Naina area of Anantnag district. An Army spokesperson said that a gun, a hand grenade and “war-like stores” were recovered from their possession.

Last week, Dilranjeet Singh, a driver from Delhi who was accompanying a German couple, was shot and injured on April 8 at a resort in Shopian district by unidentified militants.

In February, Amritpal Singh, a migrant worker from Amritsar in Punjab, was shot and killed at Shalla Kadal locality in downtown Srinagar’s Habba Kadal area. Another migrant worker, Rohit Mashi, who also hailed from Amritsar, was injured in the attack and succumbed later.

The spike in violence is reminiscent of a wave of targeted killings in Kashmir in 2022 in which ten migrant workers and four Kashmiri Pandits were shot dead, forcing the minority community to flee the Valley.

The police had blamed The Resistance Front, a suspected offshoot of Lashkar-e-Toiba, for the attacks, claiming that it was a Pakistan-backed conspiracy to “disturb the peace” in Kashmir following the 2019 events.

While there were 31 targeted attacks on civilians in 2022, the violence dipped last year with 14 such incidents reported in Jammu and Kashmir. However, at least four policemen were killed in these attacks while the number of casualties suffered by security forces also went up in 2023 as compared with 2022.

Make a contribution to Independent Journalism
facebook twitter