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Outrage over Kashmiri pandit’s killing, massive protests held in several parts of J&K

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

SRINAGAR: Outrage over the killing of a Kashmiri Pandit led to massive protests in several parts of Jammu and Kashmir last night as Kashmiri Pandits sought security in the wake of the killing of a 36-year-old man from the community.

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Kashmiri Pandit employees in south Kashmir’s Mattan and Vesu also protested against the killing. The protesting employees blocked the national highway and raised slogans against the administration for failing to stop the killing.

Two LeT terrorists shot dead a Kashmiri Pandit employee in a crowded government office in Budgam district in central Kashmir on Thursday, in a targeted killing that drew strong condemnation from political parties and employees’ association.

Rahul Bhat (35), who was posted in the tehsil office in Chadoora under a special employment package for Kashmiri Pandit migrants, was rushed to the premier SMHS Hospital in Srinagar but succumbed to his injuries soon after.

Bhat, 35, was a resident in a migrant colony at Sheikhpora and was in service for eight years. He is now survived by his wife and five-year old daughter.

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Members of the community left their transit camps, where they have been living since their exodus during the wave of militancy in 1990, blocked roads and raised slogans against the central government, saying it has failed them.

Family Demands Probe
Bhat’s father, Bitta Bhat who is a retired police officer expressed his anguish saying that, “”If a person is shot inside his office, nobody is safe in Kashmir Valley…when such a thing has happened it is a glaring example of the government’s failure…to provide security to them (Kashmiri Pandits working in the valley).”

He further demanded a probe into the to identify those involved in the “cold-blooded murder” of his son. He also questioned the deputy commissioner saying that it was DC’s responsibility to at least inform the family as his employee was killed inside his office chamber in broad-daylight.

Lashkar-e-Taiba Behind The Murder: IGP
Inspector General Police of Kashmir Range, Vijay Kumar said that Lashkar-e-Taiba was behind the killing, though a lesser-known terror outfit Kashmir Tigers claimed responsibility for the attack.

The IGP said Lateef Ahmed, a “recycled” terrorist, and new recruit Aqib Sher Gojri were the prime suspects behind the killing. “Raids are being conducted and I am sure we will be able to get them soon,” he told PTI.

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Lieutenant Governor, Political Parties Condemn The Attack
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha condemned the killing. “I strongly condemn the barbaric killing of Rahul Bhat by terrorists at Budgam. Those behind this despicable terror attack will not go unpunished. JK Govt stands in solidarity with the bereaved family in this hour of grief,” Sinha tweeted.

National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah, offering his condolence, 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 and a sense of fear grows unchecked. My heartfelt condolences to Rahul’s family. RIP.”

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 and corner of the valley, even govt offices aren’t safe. Our thoughts, prayers are with the family in this hour of grief.”

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti condemned the gruesome attack and said, Another life ended and another family devastated. My heart goes out to the bereaved family in this hour of grief. It also belies the false claims of normalcy in Kashmir.

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