Hizbul militants behind labourers’ murder, say police
Tuesday’s attack was the sixth such strike against outsiders in the state in the past two weeks.Updated: Oct 31, 2019, 01:38 IST
Militants from the Hizbul Mujahideen terror group were suspected to be behind the killing of six labourers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam district, the state police said on Wednesday, as security forces bolstered their presence across key highways and trade routes in south Kashmir and detained around 10 people for questioning.
Police spokesperson Manoj Kumar said a Hizbul Mujahideen militant, Aijaz Malik, was found to be responsible for the killing of a trucker, Narayan Dutt, in Anantnag on October 26. “This established the complicity of the Hizbul, which is also now suspected to be behind the killing of the five labourers,” he said.
“A case has been registered in this regard. Investigation is in progress and officers continue to establish the full circumstances of this terror crime.”
Tuesday’s attack was the sixth such strike against outsiders in the state in the past two weeks. On October 7, a trucker from Rajasthan was killed in Shopian. On October 16, a labourer from Chattisgarh was killed in Pulwama. The same day, apple trader Charanjit Singh was killed in Shopian. On October 24, gunmen killed two truckmen from Alwar, Ilyas and Zahid Khan in Shopian. Two days later, Dutt was killed in Anantnag.
Panic gripped the village of Katersoo, where four or five unidentified gunmen dragged the labourers out of their house and shot them dead late on Tuesday.
“Everybody here is scared, there were other labourers present in the village and after this incident, I think they are preparing to leave the place,’’ said a villager. Another said: “I don’t think any non local will stay here or in any neighbouring villages.”
The bodies of all the five labourers – identified as Mursleen Sheikh, Qamar-ud-din Sheikh, Rafiq Sheikh, Najam-ud-din Sheikh and Rafiq-ul-Sheikh – were brought to Srinagar and airlifted to West Bengal in the evening. All labourers hailed from West Bengal’s Murshidabad.
A sixth labourer, Zahoor-ud-din, is in a critical condition at Srinagar’s SMHS hospital; a seventh labourer said on condition of anonymitiy that he had a narrow escape because he was out buying groceries at the time of the attack.
A senior police officer said that initially it was thought that an isolated attack on non-locals could be aimed at enforcing the ongoing strike in south Kashmir. “But after back-to-back attacks on non-locals, it seems to be a pattern that is being done deliberately to scare non-local people.’’
The officer added that security had been enhanced but it was proving to be difficult to trace and help non-local labourers. “We don’t have any data base about the non locals...”