Militants strike J&K on 20th anniversary of Parliament attack, 2 killed

The attack left two personnel of the J&K Armed Police dead and about a dozen wounded

Kashmir

On the 20th anniversary of the 2001 attack on Parliament, armed militants in Kashmir, in a major strike, attacked a police bus, near a police camp, in Zewan in Pantha Chowk area, on the outskirts of Srinagar. The attack left two personnel of the J&K Armed Police dead and about a dozen wounded, the Jammu and Kashmir Police said.

The deceased were identified as Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Ghulam Hassan and Safique Ali (selection grade constable). Both succumbed to bullet wounds in a hospital, officials said.

The attack prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek details of the incident while expressing condolences to the families of the personnel killed.

Also read: Civilian killings in J&K up since scrapping of Article 370

“PM Narendra Modi has sought details on the terror attack. He has also expressed condolences to the families of those security personnel who have been martyred in the attack,” a tweet put out by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said.

Politicians representing major parties in J&K condemned the militant attack. Omar Abdullah, former Chief Minister and vice-president of the J&K National Conference (JKNC), tweeted: “Terrible news of a terror attack on a police bus on the outskirts of Srinagar. I unequivocally condemn this attack while at the same time send my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased & prayers for the injured.”

Former Chief Minister and J&K People’s Democratic Party (JKPDP) president Mehbooba Mufti deplored the attack in her tweet while taking a dig at the central government’s ‘fake narrative of normalcy.’ “Terribly sad to hear about the Srinagar attack in which two policemen were killed. GOI’s false narrative of normalcy in Kashmir stands exposed yet there has been no course correction. My condolences to the bereaved families,” her tweet said.

Police version

“#Terrorists fired upon a police vehicle near Zewan in Pantha Chowk area of #Srinagar. 14 personnel #injured in the attack. All the injured personnel evacuated to hospital. Area cordoned off. Further details shall follow,” the J&K Police initially confirmed on Twitter, adding more details in a subsequent tweet: “#SrinagarTerrorAttack: Among the injured police personnel, 1 ASI (assistant sub-inspector) & a selection grade constable #succumbed to their injuries & attained #martyrdom. Further details shall follow.”

The attack took place on December 13 at 6 pm. It occurred barely five hours after the forces claimed to have killed two militants in Wanabal Rawalpora area in outer Srinagar by 1 pm.

The police said that a chance encounter took place at Rangreth area of Srinagar. Soon after, the police announced that two militants had been killed near Rangreth.

Also read: NIA arrests J&K human rights activist on terror funding charge

In recent times, several attacks and encounters have taken place in the heart of Srinagar including Hyderpora, Rambagh, Rawalpora, Natipora, Jamalata, Bemina, etc.

The Kashmir violence graph is seeing an upward curve with militants targeting police personnel in various parts of the valley. On December 11, at least two J&K policemen were killed in north Kashmir’s Bandipora town when militants launched an attack on a police party at Gulshan Chowk, a busy market.

According to a police spokesperson, two to three militants could have been behind the Bandipora attack. The slain police personnel were identified as selection grade constable Mohammad Sultan and constable Fayaz Ahmed.

Altaf Thakur, J&K spokesperson of the BJP, deplored the militant attack in Bandipora. “The killing of two policemen who were on duty is barbaric. It is highly condemnable. Those behind the attack should be identified,” Thakur said.

Nearly 40 people, including 10 civilians, were killed in various incidents across Jammu and Kashmir in October. Despite claims to the contrary by the J&K administration and the police, the ground reality presents a contrasting picture, with attacks, encounters, and controversial shootouts across the restive region. In October, nine soldiers of the Indian Army and 13 suspected militants were also killed in separate incidents.

Also read: Hyderpora encounter: Bhat & Gul families say return of bodies no closure

On October 16, suspected militants shot dead a street vendor at Eidgah area in Downtown Srinagar. The deceased was identified as Arvind Kumar.

On October 5, unidentified militants had gunned down at least five non-combatants in a span of 48 hours, which included a well-known chemist in the heart of Srinagar.

Makhan Lal Bindroo, the owner of one of Srinagar’s well-known pharmacies, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his shop. Bindroo, a Kashmiri Pandit, had never left the Kashmir Valley. He stayed put in his homeland, with his spouse, even in the worst of times, in the decade starting 1990, when the region witnessed the departure of scores of Pandit families.

About 7 km from Srinagar’s Iqbal Park where Bindroo was shot dead, a street vendor, selling Bhelpuri, was also shot at point-blank range at Madina Chowk in Hawal area. The police had identified the deceased as Virender Paswan.

On the same evening, suspected militants also shot dead Mohammad Shafi Lone, the president of a local taxi stand in Naidkhai, Shahgund area, in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district.

Before these three killings, two civilians were shot dead by suspected militants on October 3. The deceased belonged to the Batamaloo and Chattabal areas in Srinagar. According to officials, suspected militants shot at and critically wounded Mohammad Shafi Dar, a resident of SD Colony in Srinagar’s Batamaloo area, around 8 pm. Dar, 45, was shifted to Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh SMHS) hospital.

Also read: J&K hots up after ‘civilian’ killings, parties seek to end police ‘impunity’

However, Dar succumbed to his bullet wounds by midnight. Before Dar’s killing, another civilian, Majid Ahmad Gojri, from Chattabal Srinagar, was shot dead at Karan Nagar, an area known for fortified security arrangements.

The killing of five civilians had sent shockwaves across the Kashmir Valley. Political parties of all ideological hues strongly deplored the killings. Former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, wrote tweets deploring the civilian killings.

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