KP Employee Shot Dead Inside His Office In Budgam

Family members wail as body of Rahul Bhat is being taken away in an ambulance from Srinagar's SMHS hospital on Thursday. KO Photo, Abid Bhat

‘Those Behind This Despicable Terror Attack Will Not Go Unpunished’: LG

Srinagar- A government employee belonging to the Kashmir Pandit community was killed by militants inside his office in Chadoora of Budgam district in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, drawing strong condemnation from political parties.

Two gunmen entered the Tehsil office in Chadoora town and shot at Rahul Bhat, a clerk posted there under the special employment package for migrants, officials said.

The officials said Bhat, who was residing in a migrant colony at Sheikhpura in Budgam district, was shifted to a hospital here but succumbed to injuries.

“The man had received three bullet injuries that had resulted in massive blood loss. Two of the bullets were shot at his shoulder while a single bullet had pierced through his chest which had caused fatal injury to the internal organs,” SMHS Medical Superintendent, Dr Kanwaljeet Singh told Kashmir Observer.

Bhat, he said, was brought in a serious condition to the hospital.

“However, even before we could operate upon him, he succumbed to his injuries,” he added.

Police said that two militants carried out the attack on Bhat using a pistol.

"Preliminary investigation reveals that 2 terrorists are involved in this heinous crime & have used pistol for committing this crime," the Kashmir Zone Police tweeted.

A hunt has been launched to track down the assailants.

Hitherto unknown outfit, 'Kashmir Tigers', has claimed responsibility for Bhat's killing.

There has been a spurt in attacks on non-Muslims and outsiders living in Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.

As many as 14 people belonging to Jammu and Kashmir's minority community, including Kashmiri Pandits, were killed by militants between August 2019 and March 2022.

Those targeted by the extremists included prominent businessmen, sarpanchs and block development council members in various parts of Kashmir.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and political parties in Kashmir condemned Bhat's killing.

"I strongly condemn the barbaric killing of Rahul Bhat by terrorists at Budgam. Those behind this despicable terror attack will not go unpunished. J&K Govt stands in solidarity with the bereaved family in this hour of grief, Sinha tweeted.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) tweeted, "We unequivocally condemn the killing of Rahul Bhat ji, who was working as an employee in revenue dept Budgam. Despite deployment of security forces in every nook & corner of the valley, even govt offices aren't safe. Our thoughts, prayers are with the family in this hour of grief."

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said, "I unequivocally condemn the murderous militant attack on Rahul Bhat. Rahul was a government employee working in the Tehsil office in Chadoora where he was attacked. Targeted killings continue & a sense of fear grows unchecked. My heartfelt condolences to Rahul's family. RIP."

"This young man had his entire life ahead of him & to know that his life was so cruelly extinguished today is tragic," he said.

BJP spokesman Altaf Thakur strongly denounced the cowardly act by militants.
The attackers must be brought to justice, he added.

The Congress, while condemning the killing, said the perpetrators of such heinous crimes should know that they cannot achieve anything by such inhuman acts.

The Peoples Conference led by Sajad Lone also condemned the killing and extended sympathies and unwavering support to the family of the victim.

While strongly condemning the attack, Apni Party President Syed Mohammed Altaf Bukhari said that it is very tragic to see this senseless bloodshed of innocents.
“Our fellow Kashmiris are suffering due to acts of violence and there seems to be no end to this madness, he said.

“Such targeted killings of members of minority community is reprehensible and the people of Kashmir won’t accept this bloodshed,” he added.

Family Says ‘Cold-Blooded Murder’, Demand Probe

Mourners flocked the house of a Kashmiri Pandit government employee shot dead by militants inside his office in central Kashmir's Budgam district Thursday, as his family and relatives waited for his body and the father demanded a probe into the incident.

Rahul Bhat, who had got the job of a clerk under the special employment package for migrants in 20120-11, was gunned down by militants inside the Tehsil office in Chadoora town.

"His body should be returned immediately and an inquiry ordered into the incident to identify all those who are involved in his cold-blooded murder, his father Bita Bhat said at his Durga Nagar residence in the outskirts of Jammu.

Wails and shrieks filled the house as mourners including neighbours and relatives rushed to comfort the family after hearing about the killing of Bhat, who was in his early 30s.

I was at a hospital accompanying my ailing brother when a family friend called from Kashmir and informed me about the incident. I tried to contact the deputy commissioner of Budgam and the concerned police officers but my calls went unanswered, the father told the media persons trying to put up a brave face and hold up his emotions.

He said it was the responsibility of the deputy commissioner to at least inform the family as his employee was killed inside his office chamber in broad-daylight.

If a person is shot inside his office, nobody is safe in the valley when such a thing has happened it is a glaring example of the government's failure. Those serving (among the Kashmiri Pandits) there are doing it at their own risk as the government has failed to provide security to them, he said.

A relative of Bhat broke down before the media. They have taken our children for dying there and not for jobs.

Bhat is survived by his parents, wife and a minor daughter. His wife and daughter were putting up with him at Sheikhpora migrant colony in Budgam district.

Rakesh Koul, the BJP municipal councilor in south Kashmir's Mattan, said the selective killings by militants is a cause for concern for the whole community, especially those who are serving in the valley.

We have risked our lives and returned to Kashmir with a hope to rebuild a connection with our roots, he said, as he tried to console the bereaved family members.

Bhat's neighbours said he was a thorough gentleman and the news of his killing came as a shock for them. (With PTI inputs)

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