19 injured in grenade attack in Sopore ahead of EU lawmakers’ Kashmir visit
Nineteen people were injured when suspected militants hurled a grenade in north Kashmir’s Sopore town on Monday, a day before a delegation of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will visit Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.
The attack, which took place at a bus stand near Hotel Plaza at 4:15pm, also comes two days after six personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were similarly injured in a grenade attack in Srinagar on Saturday evening.
“The target of the blast was civilians who were doing their routine business in the bus stand especially selling merchandise on handcarts. Six people were referred to Srinagar hospitals for treatment,” Sopore’s superintendent of police Javid Iqbal said while speaking to HT.
Iqbal said the nearest police post from the spot of the attack is more than 300 meters.
“At the time of the attack, no security force personnel were deployed at the bus stand. It was a deliberate attack on the civilians as we have also assessed the footage of the attack,” he said.
Locals, however, said the grenade was hurled at security forces near general bus stand but missed the intended target and exploded on the roadside.
Doctors said the condition of all the injured is stable.
“Only one woman has received serious injuries in the blast,’’ said a health official.
Locals said soon after the attack, personnel of the state police and Indian Army reached the area and started a search operation near the vicinity of the bus stand.
The group of 28 MEPs is visiting Kashmir against the backdrop of international criticism of the security lockdown, detentions and communications blackout imposed following the government’s decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
This is the first time lawmakers from abroad have been allowed to travel to the Kashmir Valley after the Centre scrapped the state’s special status and decided to split it into two centrally-administered territories on August 5.
Earlier this month, members of the US Congress had expressed concern over a lack of access for diplomats and foreign media and the crackdowns in the region.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for urgent action against all those who support terrorism or use terror as a state policy at an interaction with members of the European Parliament.
“There should be zero tolerance for terrorism,” the Prime Minister told the visiting group of EU lawmakers.
Modi told the group that this visit would give them a better understanding of the cultural and religious diversity of the state’s three regions; Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and give them “a clear view of the development and governance priorities of the region”.
Monday’s attack is the fifth such attack in the Valley since Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was removed. The state will be formally divided on October 31.
Suspected militants had carried out a grenade attack in a market place at Hari Singh High Street in Srinagar on October 12, injuring at least seven people, including a woman.
On October 5, at least 14 people, including two women and a policeman, were injured in a grenade attack in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
Last month, CRPF had claimed that its men on law and order duties in Srinagar were targeted by a grenade which did not cause any damage.