Another targeted killing raises tensions in India-administered Kashmir
Srinagar, India, Jun 2 (EFE).- A bank official belonging to the minority Hindu community was on Thursday shot dead by an insurgent group in the second targeted killing within a week in India-administered Kashmir, a Muslim majority region on which New Delhi has an ongoing dispute with Islamabad.
“Terrorists shot and injured Vijay Kumar grievously,” a police officer told EFE on the condition of anonymity, adding that Kumar was a resident of the western Indian state of Rajasthan, who had been working at a bank in Kashmir.
The official was inside the bank when he was shot, and died later while being moved to a health facility, the officer said.
The incident comes two days after a Hindu school teacher was shot dead by alleged separatist militants in Kulgam in another attack on religious minorities in the Muslim-majority region.
Targeted killings of Hindu minority residents have become a growing problem in the region, after the Indian government led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party revoked the semi-autonomous status of Kashmir in August 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi justified the measure as a way of boosting development, as now firms and individuals from outside the region were allowed to purchase property in Kashmir, something which had been blocked as part of the special status.
However, critics have called the decision a move to change the demography of the Muslim-majority region.
Protests from the Hindu minority have grown in recent days, demanding greater security from the government.
Just within the last two months, at least three Hindus have been killed and another injured in insurgent attacks in the region.
In October, two non-Muslim teachers had been assassinated in targeted attacks in Kashmir’s biggest city, Srinagar.
“We have been made scapegoats by the government,” said Avinash Bhat, a migrant Hindu employee who settled in the disputed region in the 1990s, at the same time when an armed insurgency demanding independence from India arose in Kashmir.
“We demand our safety, nothing else,” Rakesh, another Hindu government employee, told EFE.
An official of the Srinagar police control room, who withheld his identity, told EFE that security had been strengthened outside the houses of Hindu immigrants and measures were being taken to “build confidence” among them.
However, Avinash said the measures were insufficient because they did not protect them during their working hours.
The recent spate of killings have put the central government on alert, and sources said New Delhi had summoned regional governor Manoj Sinha on Friday to assess the security situation.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan along a de-facto border of the line of control since 1947 – when the subcontinent gained its independence from the British – but is claimed in its entirety by both nations.
The two countries have fought several wars and minor conflicts over the region, which has become one of the most militarized in the world. EFE