June 14, 2024

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Another targeted attack in Kashmir, teacher from Jammu shot dead

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BY HT NEWS

The attack came amid protests by Kashmiri Pandit employees for their relocation from the Valley to safer places.

A woman schoolteacher from Jammu was shot dead on campus at Gopalpora in Kashmir’s Kulgam district, the latest in a series of targeted attacks on migrant workers and Hindus in the Union territory.

The terror killing triggered renewed protests by migrant Kashmiri Pandit employees, who have been agitating for relocation since last month’s killing of Rahul Bhat, a government employee posted at Chadoora Budgam.

The slain teacher, Rajni Bala, 36, was a Hindu from Samba in Jammu, police said, promising swift retaliation against the terrorists involved in the attack.

“She was just entering the school premises, which is in an orchard area, when she was attacked by terrorists,” Kulgam police said. The number of terrorists involved in the attack was not clear, officials said.

Bala taught at the Gopalpora school after she was recruited in 2011 under the Scheduled Caste quota. “She is survived by her husband and a school going daughter,” an official said, seeking anonymity. Her husband Raj Kumar works in nearby Mirhama in Kulgam as a teacher.

The attack spread panic and gloom among Bala’s colleagues and students, some of whom fainted on hearing about her death.

It was the latest in a series of targeted attacks in Kashmir this year. As many as 13 people have been killed and 10 injured in the attacks by suspected militants in the past five months. The slain include four security personnel, three Hindus, and six local Muslims — panchs, sarpanchs and a TV artiste.

The killing of Bala comes five days after the murder of Amreen Bhat, a 35-year-old artiste at her home in Budgam on Wednesday last week. Her 10-year-old nephew was wounded in the attack. Besides TV appearances, Bhat was popular on YouTube and Instagram for her videos.

Constable Saifullah Qadri was earlier killed and his nine-year-old daughter injured after terrorists fired at them in Srinagar on May 24.

The attack in Kulgam revived protests by migrant Kashmiri Pandit employees who have been agitating for relocation from the Kashmir valley to safer places after the killing of Bhat in Chadoora on May 12. Scores of pandits protested in Srinagar and the southern district of Anantnag.

Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandit employees deputed in the valley under the Prime Minister’s package for the rehabilitation of the community in 2008 have been boycotting work and holding sit-in protests across Kashmir.

On May 13, special police officer Riyaz Ahmad Thoker was shot dead in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Ranjit Singh, 52, who was also from Jammu, was killed in a grenade attack inside a wine shop in Baramulla on May 17.

Politicians and officials condemned Tuesday’s killing in strong terms. Lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha vowed an “unforgettable response”.

“Terrorist attack on a school teacher, Rajni Bala is the most reprehensible act. My deepest condolences to the bereaved family,” Sinha said in a tweet. “Terrorists and their sympathizers will be given unforgettable response for the dastardly attack.”

Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti of the Peoples Democratic Party condemned the killing and criticised the central government over “fake claims” on Kashmir being normal.

It was obvious that targeted civilian killings are on the rise, which is a deep cause of concern, she said. This “act of cowardice” sadly plays “into the vicious anti-Muslim narrative spun” by the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mufti said.

“This is yet another targeted killing in a long list of recent attacks directed at unarmed civilians,” former chief minister Omar Abdullah of the National Conference said on Twitter. “Words of condemnation & condolence ring hollow as do the assurances of the government that they will not rest till situation normalises. May the deceased rest in peace.”

(Except for the headline, this story is not edited by The Scoop India staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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