A bank manager from Rajasthan was shot dead by suspected terrorists in south Kashmir's Kulgam district on Thursday, 2 June, officials said.
This is the second targeted attack on Hindus in the Valley in three days and comes just two days after Rajni Bala, a Hindu teacher from Jammu, was shot down by terrorists outside a school in Kulgam.
Vijay Kumar, who was a bank manager at the Kulgam branch of Elaqahi Dehati Bank, was attacked in the Arreh area of the district. A resident of Hanumangarh in Rajasthan, Kumar joined his posting in Kulgam only last week.
He was shot on the bank premises, officials said. Kumar, in a critical condition, was rushed to a hospital, but succumbed to his injuries on the way.
Vijay Kumar was in a critical condition when he was rushed to a hospital but succumbed to his injuries on the way.
(Photo: Munneb ul Islam)
This is the second targeted attack on Hindus in the Valley in three days.
(Photo: Munneb ul Islam)
The bank manager had joined his posting in Kulgam last week.
(Photo: Munneb ul Islam)
Authorities have cordoned off the area in an attempt to nab the attackers. Kumar got married three and a half months ago, and his father, Omprakash Beniwal, is a school teacher.
Members of Dogra Front in Jammu and Awami Awaaz in Srinagar held a protest on Thursday against the recent killings in the valley, ANI reported.
Meanwhile, the State Bank of India issued a statement saying, "SBI remains committed to ensure the safety and well-being of all its employees, including those posted in the Valley. The EDB to ensure that the bereaved family is provided with necessary support – financial and otherwise – on priority."
‘Wanted Him To Come To Rajasthan’: Vijay Kumar’s Father
Heartbreaking visuals of his family have since surfaced online, capturing them mourning his demise.
Vijay Kumar's father was quoted as saying, "In small banks in remote places, PO is the manager. He was preparing for exams so that he could have become Branch Manager and shifted to some other state. We wanted him to come to Rajasthan. But everything happens according to God's will."
Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti Condemn Killing
Former J&K CM Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to react to the killing, calling it "a mind-numbingly regular thing." The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference also reacted to the attack, condemning it and expressing condolences to the family.
Former J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti condemned "yet another targeted killing" in the Valley.
‘Kashmiri Pandits Seen As Electoral Issue, Not Humans’: AIMIM Chief Owaisi
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that PM Modi's government saw Kashmiri Pandits as an electoral issue and not as humans. He claimed that the 1987 J&K Legislative Assembly elections were rigged which led to the Kashmir conflict in 1989, as per ANI.
He added, "1987 elections were rigged and its result was seen in 1989...They see Kashmiri Pandits as electoral issues and not as humans. They don't allow the local politicians to speak. Such things are giving way to terrorism. Its onus lies on the Modi govt, I condemn it."
Owaisi said that Modi government had still not learnt its lesson and was making a similar mistake as the 1989 crisis. He said, "In 1989 too political outlet was shut down, and politicians of the valley (Kashmir) were not allowed to speak. They are making the same mistake."
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot also condemned the killing on Twitter.
"The terrorist killing of bank manager Vijay Kumar, a resident of Hanumangarh, Rajasthan, working in Kulgam, J&K is highly condemnable. The NDA government has failed to restore peace in Kashmir. The central government should ensure the safety of citizens in Kashmir," he wrote.
Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari said 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.
Meanwhile, Peoples Conference Chairperson Sajad Lone termed the killing 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.
PDP General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura said in a tweet, “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.”
BJP's J-K spokesperson Altaf Thakur said the killing was a serious issue and a matter of concern. “What a shameful act yet again. This time a bank manager of Ellaqui Dehati Bank Vijay Kumar of Rajashtan falls to the bullets of terrorists at Kulgam. Now terrorists targeting public servants too. A serious issue and a matter of concern. High time for security agencies to work out a strategy to stop this vicious cycle of violence,” he said.
The J&K BJP chief, Ravinder Raina, claimed that the recent targeted killings in the Valley is a Pakistani conspiracy, aimed at creating fear and sabotaging the Centre's efforts to restore peace and normalcy in the Union Territory.
Protests Continue in Kashmir
Meanwhile, people belonging to the Hindu community who are employed in Kashmir, continued to protest in Jammu and demanded security for the members of their community.
Two separate incidents have also taken place in the Shopian district in the last 24 hours.
Three soldiers were injured after an explosion took place in their vehicle early on Thursday morning, with one of them being critically injured. The Army said that the three soldiers were on their way for an anti-terrorist operation and the blast took place while they were on their way to the target area.
Meanwhile, a civilian, Farooq Ahmad Sheikh, was injured in a targeted terror attack inside his home on Wednesday evening.
Woman Teacher Shot Dead in J&K
The killing comes a day before Union Home Minister Amit Shah and J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s high level meeting at the national capital over the killings of Kashmiri Pandits over the last few weeks.
This is the second high-level meeting in less than a fortnight on the Kashmir issue.
The meeting comes in the wake of terrorists carrying out three targeted killings, including of a woman teacher hailing from Samba district of Jammu region at Kulgam on Tuesday.
Rajni Bala, a teacher, was shot dead by terrorists at a high school in Gopalpora area of Jammu and Kashmir's Kulgam on 31 May. Her funeral was conducted in Samba on Wednesday, 1 June.
Bala, a resident of Samba (Jammu division), received critical gunshot injuries and succumbed after being shifted to the hospital. Her death sparked protests by several people who blocked a road in Kulgam and demanded relocation, claiming that they are not feeling safe in Srinagar.
(With inputs from Pankaj Soni, PTI.)