J&K constable shot dead in Pulwama in second killing in Valley in 24 hours

A constable with the Jammu and Kashmir Police was shot dead by suspected militants at his residence in Gudroo, Pulwama early on Friday morning, the police said. This is the second killing in the Valley in the last 24 hours.

The deceased has been identified as Reyaz Ahmad Thoker. The constable was rushed to the local hospital where he succumbed to the injuries, said Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Zone) Vijay Kumar.

On Thursday evening, Rahul Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit, who worked at the tehsil office at Chadoora in Kashmir’s Budgam district, was killed within his office premises.

Meanwhile, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti was allegedly denied permission to visit Bhat’s family in Pulwama on Friday morning. Mufti said she wanted to visit Budgam to express solidarity with Kashmiri Pandits protesting against the central government’s “failure to protect them”.

In a tweet on Friday, Mufti added that she was placed under house arrest “as the fact that Kashmiri Muslims & Pandits empathise with each other’s pain doesn’t fit into their vicious communal narrative.”

As protestors blocked the Srinagar-Budgam highway, police resorted to using tear smoke shells to disperse them. Former CM Omar Abdullah termed the police’s high-handedness “shameful”, adding, “This is not new for the people of Kashmir because when all the administration has is a hammer every problem resembles a nail. If the LG’s government can’t protect KPs (Kashimiri Pandits) they  have a right to protest.”

He also took on the Manoj Sinha-led administration over its claims of normalcy stating, “Tourism is not normalcy, it’s a barometer of economic activity. Normalcy is the absence of fear, the absence of terror, the inability of militants to strike at will, the presence of democratic rule and by any yardstick you choose to use, Kashmir is far from normal today.”

Earlier, Abdullah tweeted, “Rahul in his office yesterday, Riyaz Ahmad Thoker, a SPO with J&K police, in his own home today. Targeted killings continue unabated. I can’t condemn this killing strongly enough. May Allah grant Riyaz place in Jannat.”

A protester at Sheikhpora, Budgam, Vimal Bhat who spoke to The Indian Express said, “This is not the first such killing (referring to the death of Bhat). The government has been making many claims about our security. All their assurances have failed. In another six months, there will be another protest over another killing. This has to end.”

Protestors are demanding an audience with the LG to “prove to us what they are doing to ensure our security.”

Mufti, meanwhile, appealed for peace and urged the majority community in the Valley to stand by the minorities and uphold “J&K’s legacy of peace and unity.” “In view of targeted killings, I appeal to people of J&K to stand together in these turbulent times so that GOI doesn’t use this tragic incident to further malign Muslims across the country,” she added.

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