7 Killings In 5 Days Rattle Security Establishment, Create Fear; Anger
Srinagar: For the staffers of the Government Boys Higher Secondary School in Srinagar’s Eidgah, it was just another normal day. The tea was already poured, the morning discussions were still going on and the struggles of online teachings were quite apparent.
But, before they could finish off with their daily morning routine and begin with their educational affair, three armed assailants barged into the school and asked the staff milling around in the corridor to move inside the principal’s room.
Taking control of their nerves, the assailants then asked the staff to line up in a single row and demanded to know their identities.
"It was their when assailants asked the Muslim staff to step out of the room while they spoke with the two non-Muslim staffers." An eyewitness said "We don’t know what they talked about, but the last thing that happened was that the assailants got them out of the room and shot them mercilessly."
The school Principal Supinder Kour, a resident of Rengipora Beerwah and Deepak Chand, a teacher from Jammu, collapsed in a pool of blood.
Heart wrenching videos surfaced on social media websites, including Facebook and Twitter showing the two teachers lying lifeless on the ground. Some videos also showed their colleagues mourning and weeping in silence.
Pertinently, the attack inside the school took place barely 36 hours after militants shot dead a prominent pharmacist and two others, including a non-local vendor in three back to back attacks within an hour in this capital city and north Kashmir’s Bandipora district on Tuesday.
Prior to that, two people, including a gym trainer were shot dead by suspected militants in Srinagar’s Karan Nagar and Batamaloo on Saturday last.
J&K DGP Dilbag Singh said the ‘Resistance Front’ was responsible for the killings.
In a statement issued after the killings, a police spokesperson said that around 1130hrs, police received information about a “terror crime incident” at Sangam area of Eidgah Srinagar where terrorists had fired upon staff members of a Govt School.
The police spokesperson said that DGP Dilbag Singh along with IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar, IG CRPF Ms. Charu Sinha and other senior officers of Police/CAPF reached the school.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that terrorists had fired upon the Principal & a teacher of the Govt Boys Higher Secondary School Sangam. They have been identified as Supinder Kour (Principal) resident of Rengipora Beerwah and Deepak Chand (Teacher) resident of Jammu. In this terror incident, both had received grievous gunshot injuries and were immediately evacuated to nearby hospital. However, both of them have succumbed to their injuries,” the police spokesperson said.
He said that a case has been registered under relevant sections of law in this regard.
“Investigation is in progress and officers continue to work to establish the full circumstances of this terror crime. Area has been cordoned and search in the area is going on,” the police spokesperson added.
According to locals, Supinder Kour was appointed Principal of the government school two years ago. Deepak Chand, a resident of Jammu's Bakshi Nagar, was working in the school since 2018.
This spree of what police describe as “targeted killings” comes at a time when the Government of India is pushing for the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley.
‘The Resistance Front’, an off-shoot of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as per security establishment, has claimed recent killings, including that of Bindroo. The shadowy group leveled several allegations against the deceased.
A statement appearing in The Hindu newspaper alleged that these teachers had on August 15 harassed and warned parents with dire consequences if any student did not attend the August 15 function. We want to make it crystal clear that outsider domicile holders, stooges and collaborators, whatsoever their religion, won’t be spared”.
As per official data, 25 civilians have been killed by suspected militants in Kashmir this year till date. As per the figures, 10 civilians have been killed in Srinagar, 4 each in Pulwama and Anantnag, 3 in Kulgam, 2 in Baramulla and 1 each in Budgam and Bandipora so far, this year.
While four of the victims were Kashmiri Pandits, three were non-locals from other Indian states, and 18 were local Muslims. As per another data from the Ministry of Home Affairs, a copy of which lies with Kashmir Observer, this year's targeted killing of civilians in the Valley has reversed the in place trend of the past six years.
As per the data, in the last six years, this is for the first time that the Valley witnessed more civilian killings than security forces in various militancy related incidents.
The data further reveals that the number of civilians killed in 2020 stood at 33 whereas the number of security personnel killed in the same year stood at 46. In the year 2019, the data noted, 36 civilians and 78 security personnel were killed.
Meanwhile, politicians across the spectrum expressed their outrage.
"Incidents of violence are increasing in Kashmir. Terrorism has neither stopped due to demonetisation nor after the abrogation of Article 370 - the central government has completely failed to provide security," Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.
Shocking news coming in again from Srinagar. Another set of targeted killings, this time of two teachers in a Govt school in Idgah area of the city. Words of condemnation are not enough for this inhuman act of terror but I pray for the souls of the deceased to rest in peace, added National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Twitter.
Peoples Democratic Party Mehbooba Mufti said it was disturbing to see the deteriorating situation in Kashmir where a minuscule minority is the latest target. "GOI's claims of building a Naya Kashmir has actually turned it into a hellhole. It's sole interest is to use Kashmir as a milch cow for its electoral interests, she wrote on Twitter.
Apni Party (JKAP) chief Altaf Bukhari said there is need to ponder whether ground and human intelligence had failed or had the enemy become sharper and more organised.
Any further delay in the revival of grassroots democracy will only lead us to mayhem, which we have started witnessing," Bukhari told PTI.
According to CPI(M) leader Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, the spree of killings had shocked Kashmiri society. "Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs are part and parcel of the local shared history, and cultural ethos. Protecting the pluralistic visage of J&K must be the top agenda of every Kashmiri," he said in a statement.
Peoples Conference chairperson Sajad Lone added that it is important to understand that terrorists have no religion.
...This is a lunatic fringe which is a curse for Kashmir. May Allah rid us of this curse, Lone said in a tweet.
Bharatiya Janata Party s J&K spokesperson Altaf Thakur said the killing of unarmed teachers who have nothing to do with politics is purely an inhuman act.
He said the cowardly act deserves the highest form of condemnation.
Killing of unarmed civilians can never be justified as no religion allows to kill innocents, the BJP spokesperson added
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