New Delhi: Four civilians were killed and six others injured when militants barged into and opened fire in least three houses of a minority community in a village in Jammu and Kashmir’s border district of Rajouri on the evening of Sunday, January 2. Within hours after the gun attacks, a blast at one of the houses which were the militants’ targets killed a child and injured four others, one of them seriously.
This was the first such concerted attack in the last few years in the otherwise peaceful Jammu region.
Additional Director General of Police, Jammu Zone, Mukesh Singh said police, along with the Army and the CRPF, have launched a massive search operation to nab the two “armed men” behind the attack at Upper Dangri village, about eight kilometres from Rajouri town.
“Firing took place at three houses, separated at a distance of around 50 metres from each other. Two civilians have succumbed to injuries and four others are injured,” Singh said.
Rajouri (J&K) firing incident | As per info, 2 terrorists came & targeted 3 houses in upper Dangri area. 4 casualties reported. Search operation on. Police, CRPF, Army troops have cordoned off the area. We'll try to neutralize the 2 terrorists soon: Mukesh Singh, ADGP Jammu Zone pic.twitter.com/rKjozIWKKn
— ANI (@ANI) January 1, 2023
Since then, PTI has reported that two more injured civilians succumbed to injuries, taking the death toll to four.
Two militants appeared in the village around 7 pm and opened indiscriminate firing on three houses and fled, officials said, quoting eye witnesses, according to PTI.
“The firing ended within 10 minutes. First, they attacked a house in Upper Dangri and then they moved 25 meters away and shot several people there. They also fired on another house 25 meters away from the second house while fleeing the village,” an official said.
He said a total of 10 persons were hit by the bullets and three of them were declared brought dead at the Government Medical College hospital Rajouri, while another critically injured succumbed while being airlifted to Jammu along with two other injured persons.
The deceased have been identified as Satish Kumar (45), Deepak Kumar (23), Pritam Lal (57) and Shishu Pal (32), the official said.
The injured have been identified as Pawan Kumar (38), Rohit Pandit (27), Saroj Bala (35), Ridham Sharma (17) and Pawan Kumar (32), he said.
Medical Superintendent of Government Medical College (GMC) Rajouri, Dr Mehmood H. Bajar, confirmed the death of four persons in the firing to PTI and said among the injured, two were airlifted to Jammu for specialised treatment.
Deeraj Kumar, sarpanch of Dangri, said gunshots were heard around 7 pm and after some time their intensity increased. “Later, I received calls that there was firing by terrorists,” he added.
Kumar said it was after a long time that targeted killings were carried out in the area and called the incident as a major security lapse. There was already a threat perception and searches too were conducted in some areas of the district, he added.
Call for strike
The incident caused panic and protests were held with several organisations including traders’ bodies calling for a general strike in the district today.
Additional deployments have been made in sensitive areas as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order, the officials said.
A group of people, who gathered outside GMC hospital Rajouri, shouted slogans against “Pakistan and terrorists,” reported PTI.
Protesters also shouted slogans against the Lieutenant Governor administration and security agencies for not tackling the threat of Pakistan-sponsored terrorists effectively, eyewitnesses said.
The officials said security forces are conducting a massive search but there was no trace of the assailants so far.
The incident comes barely two weeks after two civilians were killed in a firing incident outside an army camp in the town.
Mainstream parties condemn attack
Mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir condemned the attack.
J&K Congress chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma told PTI, “We vehemently condemn the terror attack by Pakistani-backed terrorists against the minority community in Rajouri. It is a conspiracy against them.”
He demanded Rs 50 lakh as compensation to the families of each of the deceased person and best possible treatment to the injured.
J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina condemned the incident and called it an act of “utter cowardice by Pakistani terrorists” and pledged to wipe out them and their supporters from the UT.
“Pakistan’s nefarious designs have failed till now and it will be taught a lesson for all its misdeeds,” he said.
The Democratic Azad party also condemned the attack. “I strongly condemn brutal terror attack at Dhangri, Rajouri in which three civilians have been killed,” chief of newly formed DAP Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
He said this is an act of cowardice. “My deepest condolences to the families and relatives of the victims, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” he said.
National Conference, through its senior leader Javed Rana, who was also former deputy chairman of the Legislative Council expressed condolences.
Apni Party’s senior leader and former minister Choudhary Zulfikar Ali said, “Saddened to hear about the Killing of three innocent civilians in firing at Dhangri Village in Rajouri in which many others got injured (as reported by local media)”.
He said it was big tragedy which not only caused human loss but also spread a wave of panic in the entire area. He demanded justice and compensation for the families.
(With PTI inputs)
Note: This article has been updated since publication to add information on the second blast.