Baramulla wine shop attack: Protesters block Rajouri-Poonch highway
Hundreds of villagers -- including family members, relatives and friends of 52-year-old Ranjit Singh, who was killed in a grenade attack inside a wine shop in Baramulla on Tuesday -- blocked Rajouri-Poonch highway at Sunderbani on Wednesday morning for over three hours to protest against his killing.
They also raised slogans against the administration for failing to provide safety to minorities in Jammu and Kashmir. Ranjit was the sole bread earner of his family, which has his wife, four daughters and a son. “I want justice for my father. He was the one who took care of the family. Now, who will take care of us? Today, this happened to my father. Tomorrow it can happen to some other person,” said Ranjit’s daughter.
Local leaders have demanded compensation of ₹25 lakh and a government job to a member of Ranjit’s family. Ranjit hailed from Bhakar village in Sunderbani and had recently gone to Baramulla to work at the wine shop.
Following the blockade, several vehicles were stuck in a long traffic jam on the Rajouri-Poonch highway, prompting senior officers, including Rajouri deputy magistrate Vikas Kundal and SSP Mohammad Aslam Choudhary, to rush to the spot. The officials pacified the protesters, who lifted the blockade and proceeded to their native village Bhakar where Ranjit’s body was cremated.
Rajouri SSP Choudhary said, “As far as the demands of compensation and job are concerned, the aggrieved family will be provided relief as per the laid norms for civilians, who become victim of terrorism.”
Condition of one of the injured, Govind, remains critical and he has been brought to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences.
In Kashmir, various terror outfits including The Resistance Front, Kashmir Tigers, Jammu and Kashmir Freedom Fighters, Lashkar and Hizbul Mujahideen have threatened attacks on liquor shops.
Lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha said, “I strongly condemn the terror attack at Dewan Bagh, Baramulla. My deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Ranjit Singh. I pray for the speedy recovery of injured. Perpetrators of this heinous terror attack shall be punished.”
‘Baramulla had almost negligible militant presence’
The attack on the wine shop in Baramulla is alarming as militants managed to target the shop inside a high-security zone in the garrison town.
The wine shop was recently opened after government issued fresh licences to run such outlets. Prior to start of militancy, Baramulla town had over half a dozen wine shops that got shut after another. However, one wine outlet was functioning at Kantbagh for the past many years.
The attack took place close the army’s 19 infantry division where offices and official residences of top senior army and police officers are located. “Baramulla had almost negligible militant presence, but last night’s attack is an indication that militants can strike any place in the town,” a senior intelligence officer said, adding, “The security needs to be enhanced so that these types of incidents are not repeated in future.”
Baramulla is the headquarters of army’s strategic 19 infantry division which keeps a close eye on the LoC in north Kashmir’s Gulmarg, Uri and Nowgam areas which have been often used by militants to sneak into the Valley.
Officials said they didn’t have information about any active militant in the area, though police had claimed to have busted modules in the vicinity of the town in the last few months.
‘Spurt in terror attacks ahead of Amarnath Yata a cause of concern’
Former deputy chief minister Kavinder Gupta said, “Targeting minorities will not be tolerated. Though security forces will deal with them (attackers), these attacks are a cause of concern in view of ensuing Amarnath Yatra and tourist season.”
Several mainstream political parties have also condemned the attack.
Former MLC and chief spokesperson of Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee Ravinder Sharma has a demanded government job and ex gratia of 25 lakh for the next of kin of Ranjit Singh besides adequate compensation for three injured persons.
“The Congress is deeply concerned over such repeated incidents of terrorist attacks and targeted killings, which need to be checked through an effective strategy by the Centre and various security forces,” he added.
“There should not be different yardsticks for the victims of militancy,” he said.
He said the victim is survived by four daughters besides an infant son, wife and aged parents. “Under these circumstances, the family should be considered for a government job as per the standing provisions of SRO 43 and adequate financial relief,” he added.
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