2 Drivers Killed by Terrorists in Shopian, 3rd Incident in 10 Days
Unidentified gunmen, widely believed to be militants, have gunned down two more non-Kashmiri drivers.
Unidentified gunmen, widely believed to be militants, have gunned down two more non-Kashmiri drivers and set their trucks on fire, yet again in the South Kashmir district of Shopian.
Residents said that a group of three to four gunmen appeared at Chitragam, Zainapora, about 15 km from the district headquarters of Shopian, at around 7:00 pm on Thursday, 24 October. They opened indiscriminate fire on two or three trucks which were being laden with apples. Two drivers died on the spot before the police and security forces reached there. One more driver, in critical condition, was evacuated and rushed to Srinagar.
The labourers and others on the spot ran away into the village immediately after they heard gunshots and spotted two trucks in flames. Residents said the shootout spread a wave of terror in the apple-rich Shopian district where suspected militants had shot dead two more outsiders associated with the fruit business earlier this month.
Similar to Earlier Incidents
Additional Director General of Police, Security and Law & Order, Munir Khan, told The Quint that like the two previous incidents, Thursday’s killings were aimed at spreading fear among the fruit growers and transporters currently carrying apples from the Valley to Jammu, Delhi and other destinations.
“It’s a brazen act of terror. Police and security forces are on the job of getting the killers identified and punished for such crimes,” Khan asserted.
Quoting preliminary reports from Shopian, Mr Khan said that one of the slain drivers had been identified as Illyas Khan of Alwar, Rajasthan, while no photo identity card or documents had been found on the second dead body.
A middle-rung police official said that the injured driver who was rushed to Srinagar and admitted to SMHS Hospital was identified as Jeevan Singh of Kartarpur, Punjab.
‘Purpose Was to Spread Fear’
In the evening on 14 October, suspected militants had shot dead a fruit truck driver Mohammad Sharief Khan of Rajasthan before his vehicle was set on fire at Sindhu Shirmal, in Shopian. On 16 October, suspected militants appeared at Trenz in Shopian. They opened fire on two fruit traders. One of them, Charanjit Singh of Punjab, died while as his associate sustained injuries. He was rushed to a Srinagar hospital.
All the three incidents of terror happened between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm with the apparent purpose of spreading fear among hundreds of thousands of the Kashmiri fruit growers and traders and thousands of the drivers engaged with transportation of apples from Kashmir to different destinations across the country.
Even as no militant outfit has called for shutdown or issued a statement against harvesting and transportation of apples, posters and whispers across South Kashmir have terrorised a huge chunk of the population.
Many people believe that militants were against restoration of normalcy and trade activity and the three incidents of terror were their handiwork.
On Thursday, reports of stone pelting and hurling of petrol bombs on the civil vehicles in movement, poured in from over 30 spots across Valley.
Residents believe that the government’s Market Intervention Scheme, under which NAFED has to purchase apples worth Rs 5,000 crore from the local growers and traders at a reasonable rate and transport it to Delhi and other destinations, was apparently a reason for the militants to strike.
Separatists and militant sympathisers as usual insist that such acts of terrorising the Kashmiris and emaciating them economically could be the handiwork of the Indian security and intelligence agencies.
(The writer is a Srinagar-based journalist. He can be reached @ahmedalifayyaz.)
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