‘Won’t Leave Valley’, Says KP Trader Mawa

Srinagar– A day after suspected militants shot dead a sales executive in downtown Srinagar, the victim’s employer Sandeep Mawa — believed to be the actual target of the assassins — has asserted he would not leave Kashmir. This was the second killing in a span of 48 hours.

Mawa believes that he and his father were the actual targets of the militants who killed his employee, Ibrahim Khan. “My family is scared but… I will not leave Kashmir,” he said. “I will not leave and be silenced by the gun.”

The 45-year-old employee was shot dead by gunmen in downtown Srinagar’s Bohrikadal area on Monday night. Prior to his killing, suspected militants shot dead a police man in the city, where a spate of target killings continue despite a heavy security presence.

The target killings began in the first week of October and sent the administration into panic. The assailants have targeted and killed several civilians, including members of Kashmir’s minority communities and non-local workers.

Mawa, a Kashmiri Pandit himself, told a national channel that he was warned by the police that he could be targeted by assassins. “I got a call around 3 in the afternoon from the police that I could be targeted,” he said. “So, I left home in my [another] small car. Ibrahim (Khan) went to take my XUV from the store around 8 pm. The militant was lurking there in the dark. He thought it was me and pumped four bullets in him.”

Another employee of Mawa was present at the time of the fatal attack.

Khan was a resident of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district and is survived by his parents, wife, and two young children. He was employed by Mawa for the last 15 years. “I don’t know how to face his family. It feels as if I am responsible for his death,” Mawa said.

A little known militant outfit called the Muslim Janbaz force, earlier believed to be defunct, has claimed responsibility for Khan’s death in an unsigned letter written in Urdu attributed to the group. The veracity of the letter could not be independently verified. No militant outfit has rebutted the letter so far.

The letter alleged that Mawa and his father Roshan Lal Mawa were the “real targets”as the “father-son duo were working with Indian agencies and that is why they were targeted. They were involved in bringing non-locals to Kashmir.”

Mawa’s father Roshan Lal, also a prominent businessman, has also been on the militant radar earlier. He was shot and injured in the 1990s, forcing the family to migrate from Kashmir. They returned to the Valley in 2019.

“My father is in Delhi. I am in Srinagar with my wife and two children,” said Mawa. “They are very scared after the latest incident but I am trying to convince them. I will not leave Kashmir.”

So far, 12 civilians and three police personnel have been killed by suspected militants in the Valley since October. On Sunday, police constable Tausif Ahmad was shot at around 8 pm near his residence in the SD Colony in the Batamaloo area.

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