Kashmiri Pandit Shot Dead in Budgam

Unidentified gunmen on Thursday afternoon shot dead a government employee in his office premises in Chadoora area of Budgam in central Kashmir. The victim was identified as Rahul Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit who worked at Tehsil office under the prime minister's employment package for the community.

Eyewitness accounts said two suspected militants entered the office premises, fired at Bhat and fled from the spot. Officials said that assailants used pistols to shoot Bhat. He was immediately rushed to sub-district hospital in the area and later referred to SMHS in Srinagar, where he died.

Bhat lived in a protected Pandit colony in Sheikhpora area of Budgam. Kashmiri Pandits living in colonies in Budgam, Baramullah and Anantnag districts took out protest marches condemning the killing and demanded justice.

They blocked the highway in Wessu area near Qazigund and raised slogans against the J&K administration and the BJP for ‘failing to protect’ minorities in the Valley.

“We are doing our jobs here and have nothing to do with politics. Why was our brother killed inside his office today? What was his offence? Where is the BJP govt and the J&K administration,” asked a Kashmiri Pandit protestor in Wessu. Political parties across the spectrum condemned the killing and lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha said that the perpetrators won’t be spared. “I strongly condemn the barbaric killing of Rahul Bhat by terrorists at Budgam. Those behind this despicable terror attack will not go unpunished. J&K government stands in solidarity with the bereaved family in this hour of grief,” Sinha tweeted.

Former CM J&K Omar Abdullah condemned the murderous attack saying that targeted killings continued in Kashmir unchecked. “Targeted killings continue, and a sense of fear grows unchecked. My heartfelt condolences to Rahul’s family. . . This young man had his entire life ahead of him and to know that his life was so cruelly extinguished today is tragic," said Abdullah.

“Despite deployment of security forces in every nook and corner of the Valley, even government offices aren't safe. Our thoughts, prayers are with the family in this hour of grief,” PDP said in a statement issued here.

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