Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – Two people, including a police officer, have been shot dead in Indian-administered Kashmir – the latest in a series of targeted attacks in the disputed region that began last month.
On Monday evening, Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, a resident of Astengo in Bandipora district, was critically wounded when suspected rebels fired at him near a grocery shop in Bohri Kadal area of the main city of Srinagar.
Khan, who worked at the shop owned by a Kashmiri Hindu, succumbed to his injuries at a nearby hospital, police said in a statement, calling it a “terror incident”.
In another incident on Sunday evening, Tauseef Ahmad, a 29-year-old police officer, was shot dead outside his home in the Batamaloo neighbourhood in the heart of Srinagar.
“On Sunday, I called him at 7:30pm to remind him to come home as he had to take his medicine. He said he was buying candies for the kids. In 15 minutes, I got another call from his brother-in-law informing me that my husband has been shot,” Ahmad’s wife told reporters.
“We don’t need anything, but I just want to ask those who killed him: ‘What was the fault of my husband?’,” she said as her two children, aged four and five, huddled around her.
The Himalayan territory of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, which rule over parts of it. An armed rebellion against New Delhi’s rule on the Indian side began in 1989, with rebels demanding either the region’s merger with Pakistan or an independent nation.
The conflict intensified after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government scrapped the region’s limited autonomy in August 2019 and split it into two federally-run territories.
The move was followed by a months-long security lockdown, during which hundreds of Kashmiri leaders, activists, lawyers and youths were arrested and thrown into jails.
A series of laws that local residents allege are aimed at changing the demographics of India’s only Muslim-majority region and robbing them of their livelihoods have added to the tensions.
Recently, a fresh wave of killings by suspected rebels has seen them targeting Kashmiri Hindus, known locally as Pandits, and non-Kashmiris, mainly migrant workers.
Since last month, a total of 42 people, including 13 civilians, 19 suspected rebels and 10 soldiers, have been killed in the restive region.
The spate of targeted attacks began on October 5 when a Hindu pharmacist and a migrant worker from the eastern state of Bihar were shot dead.
That was followed by the killing of a Sikh school principal and a Hindu teacher two days later.
In the wake of the targeted killings, the region has been put on high alert and security forces have intensified their counterinsurgency operations against the rebels. At least 11 gunfights between Indian forces and the rebels took place last month.
In Srinagar, where most of these gunfights took place, new bunkers and checkpoints have been built while surveillance measures have been intensified.
Mehbooba Mufti, the former chief minister of the region, slammed the government for the killings.
“Security situation in Kashmir has deteriorated to an extent where not a week goes by when an innocent doesn’t lose his life,” she posted on Twitter.
“Unfortunate that despite repressive measures taken in the name of security, people are being killed and have no sense of dignity or normalcy.”