Terrorists gun down bank employee in Kulgam in Kashmir; eighth killing since May 1

Vijay Kumar, a manager with the Ellaqui Dehati Bank at Areh Mohanpora branch in the south Kashmir district, received grievous gunshot injuries and died on his way to hospital. He is from Rajasthan and had just joined the Kulgam branch a week ago

People protesting in Srinagar against the recent killing of the teacher Rajni Bala by terrorists. Pic: PTI

Terrorists shot dead a bank employee from Rajasthan inside the bank premises in Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Thursday (June 2), the eighth targeted killing in the Valley since May 1 and the third of a non-Muslim government employee.

Vijay Kumar, a manager with the Ellaqui Dehati Bank at Areh Mohanpora branch in the south Kashmir district, received grievous gunshot injuries and died on his way to hospital, officials said. The latest killing led to a chorus of condemnation from political parties across the spectrum, including the National Conference and the BJP.

Kumar, a resident of Hanumangarh in Rajasthan, had joined the Kulgam branch only a week ago. He had earlier been working in the Kokernag branch of the bank, co-owned by the Central government, the Jammu and Kashmir administration and the State Bank of India.

Security forces have cordoned off the area and a hunt has been launched to nab the attackers, the officials said. Two days ago, on May 31, Rajni Bala, a Hindu woman teacher from Jammu’s Samba district, was shot dead by terrorists at a government school in Gopalpora, Kulgam. On May 12, Rahul Bhat, a clerk, was shot dead inside the tehsildar’s office in Chadoora tehsil of Budgam district.

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Of the eight targeted killings in Kashmir since May 1, three victims were off-duty policemen and five were civilians.

“So very sorry to hear about the targeted killing of Vijay Kumar. Tweeting to condemn an attack & condole a death are becoming a mind-numbingly regular thing. Its heartbreaking to see families destroyed like this,” NC vice president Omar Abdullah said in a tweet.
Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari added that it was painful to witness targeted killings of civilians in Kashmir.

“These dastardly acts of violence have devastated families… It’s shocking. Will words of condemnation be ever enough?” he wrote on Twitter.

Also read: Cops barricade Kashmiri Pandit camps as they threaten to leave Valley

People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone termed the killing a heinous act and said he was at a loss of words to express his condemnation for such a heinous act. “Yet again extremely sad news coming in. An innocent civilian working as a manager in a bank in Kulgam has been shot dead,” he said on Twitter.

Joining in the condemnation, PDP general secretary Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura said such incidents unmask the fake claims of normalcy by the administration.

“Yet another life lost, deeply saddening & condemnable. This place has been turned into a battleground by the high headedness of the admin, its fake claims of normalcy stand unmasked. Situation is far from normal & immediate steps need to be taken for redressal. My condolences,” the PDP leader said in a tweet.

Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina on Thursday said the recent targeted killings in the Valley is a conspiracy by Pakistan to create fear and sabotage the Centre’s efforts to restore peace and normalcy in the Union Territory. Raina asserted that the conspiracy by the neighbouring country will be thwarted as the police and other security agencies are neutralising Pakistan-supported terrorists all out to provide a secure atmosphere people.

He claimed the targeted killings is part of the conspiracy jointly chalked out by Pakistan’s Inter-services Intelligence (ISI), its army and terrorist groups based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). “They have named this conspiracy operation Red Wave like we have seen the operation Tupac in 1980-1990 under the leadership of then Pakistani military ruler Gen Zia-ul-Haq, which brought death and destruction to Kashmir,” the BJP leader claimed.

Also read: Non-Muslim Kashmiris seek to build civil movement against radicalisation in Valley

Raina said Pakistan is the biggest enemy of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and it wants to create an “Afghanistan-like situation” in the Valley. He said the operation Red Wave will meet the same fate as the Operation Tupac, as police and security forces are determined to wipe out terrorism with active support of the people of Jammu and Kashmir who are nationalist by core.

Condemning the latest killing of bank manager Vijay Kumar in south Kashmirs Kulgam district, Raina said, “The coward Pakistan and its supported terrorists have once again committed a grave sin and they have to pay heavy price for this.”

“Whether it is (Kashmiri pandit) Rahul Pandita, (Muslim artist) Amreen, (policemen) Riyaz Ahmad Thokar and Saifullah Qadri, (Dogra from Jammu) Rajni Bala or bank manager from Rajasthan, innocent blood was split and Pakistan is directly involved in it over the last 35 years. They have turned the valley into a graveyard,” Raina said.

Raina said Pakistan and its agencies are frustrated because the security forces eliminated all the top commanders of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizbul Mujahideen and other groups operating in the valley. “The backbone of the terrorism has already been broken with security forces successfully foiling all attempts of infiltration and recovering drone-dropped weapons like pistols and sticky bombs. We will frustrate this conspiracy (targeted killings) as well,” he said. He also referred to the surgical and Balakote strikes inside Pakistan and said “Pakistan will have to pay for its black deeds and crimes committed against humanity.”

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