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J&K: Constable Dies After Being Shot at by Militants in Pulwama

The policeman's death comes within 24 hours of a Kashmiri Pandit government employee, Rahul Bhat, being shot dead by terrorists in his office in Budgam district.

New Delhi: A policeman was shot dead by suspected militants at his residence in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir early on May 13, Friday, – the second reported killing in the valley in the last 24 hours.

Constable Reyaz Ahmad Thokar was shot at in Gudoora of Pulwama district Friday morning, a police spokesman told PTI. The injured cop was rushed to the Army’s 92 base hospital in the city but succumbed to injuries.

On May 12, Thursday, a Kashmiri Pandit government employee, Rahul Bhat, was shot dead by terrorists within his office premises at Chadoora in Budgam district.

There have been protests by the Kashmiri Pandit community against the “failure” of the government to protect the lives of those in the community.

Budgam: Kashmiri pandits shout slogans while blocking a road during their protest over the killing of Rahul Bhat, who was shot at by militants inside his office and later succumbed to injuries, at Sheikh Pora in Budgam district, Thursday, May 12, 2022. Photo: PTI/S. Irfan

One such protest in Srinagar saw J&K Police baton charge and fire of tear gas shells, PTI reported, citing officials.

A protester told the Indian Express on the condition of anonymity: “The police are resorting to lathicharge. The administration makes such bold statements about normalcy. Is this normal? They should move us all to Jammu and resolve this security issue once and for all.”

A protester at Sheikhpora, Budgam, Vimal Bhat who spoke to the newspaper said, “This is not the first such killing (referring to the death of Bhat). The government has been making many claims about our security. All their assurances have failed. In another six months, there will be another protest over another killing. This has to end.”

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said that she has been placed under house arrest to stop her from visiting Budgam to express solidarity with the protesting Kashmiri Pandits.

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“Wanted to visit Budgam to express my solidarity with Kashmiri Pandits protesting against GOIs failure to protect them. Have been put under house arrest as the fact that Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits empathise with each other’s pain doesn’t fit into their vicious communal narrative,” the PDP chief said.

Police officials, however, refused to comment over Mufti’s claim.

“In view of targeted killings, I appeal to people of J&K to stand together in these turbulent times so that GOI doesn’t use this tragic incident to further malign muslims across the country,” Mufti said in a video message on Twitter.

Saying that targeted killings continue unabated in the valley, National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abddullah said it was shameful that legitimate and justified protests are met with a heavy-handed response .

“This is not new for the people of Kashmir because when all the administration has is a hammer every problem resembles a nail. If the LG’s Govt can’t protect KPs they have a right to protest,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Tourism is not normalcy, it’s a barometer of economic activity. Normalcy is the absence of fear, the absence of terror, the inability of militants to strike at will, the presence of democratic rule & by any yardstick you choose to use, Kashmir is far from normal today,” he wrote on Twitter.

The NC leader, while condemning the killing of a policeman in Pulwama on Friday, said targeted killings continue unabated in the valley.

“Rahul in his office yesterday, Riyaz Ahmad Thoker, a SPO with J&K police, in his own home today. Targeted killings continue unabated. I can’t condemn this killing strongly enough. May Allah grant Riyaz place in Jannat,” he said.

(With inputs from PTI)