The latest killing of a village head by suspected militants in south Kashmir's Pulwama district on Thursday night may be triggered by religious beliefs held by the victim.
The victim identified as Mohammad Yousuf Bhat (43), a resident of Wagum village in Pulwama district, around 30 km south of Srinagar, was shot at when he was on his way to a mosque for special Ramzan prayers called Tarawi around 9:30 pm last night.
"My daughter, who is victim's wife, was accompanying him. At least four persons came and told her they have to talk to him, and took him away," said Wali Mohammad, father-in-law of the victim.
Bhat was shot from a close range and received several bullets. He was rushed to district hospital Pulwama where doctors declared him brought dead.
Mohammad said the victim, a numberdar by profession, has no apparent enemy. "People will vouch for his qualities because he was known to help poor and ailing people," said the victim's father-in-law.
However, the murmurs and hushed conversation in the village are blowing in another direction. Locals say the victim was believed to have converted to Christianity a few years ago, a story confirmed by the police investigating the matter.
"But Bhat had reconverted to Islam it seems. There were rumours about him being an evangelist. This perception about him made the victim vulnerable," said a police official, on condition of anonymity.
Bhat's killing comes in the wake of six killings that shook Sopore in May and June.
No militant outfit has taken responsibility of the killing so far.
The joint operation launched by the army and the police immediately after the killing also failed to nab the culprits.