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Kashmiri Pandit govt employee shot at in his office, succumbs

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Terror attack will not go unpunished: LG; NC, PC, BJP, PDP, CPI(M), Cong condemn the killing

Srinagar: A government employee belonging to the Kashmir Pandit community was killed by militants inside his office in Chadoora of Budgam district in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, drawing strong condemnation from political parties.

Two gunmen entered the Tehsil office in Chadoora town and shot at Rahul Bhat, a clerk posted there under the special employment package for migrants, officials said.

The officials said Bhat, who was residing in a migrant colony at Sheikhpura in Budgam district, was shifted to a hospital here but succumbed to injuries.

“The injured was immediately brought to SMHS Hospital, Srinagar for treatment where he succumbed to his injuries. Preliminary investigation reveals that 2 terrorists are involved in this heinous crime & have used pistol for committing this crime,” the Kashmir Zone Police tweeted.

He is survived by wife, five-year-old daughter and parents. His father is a retired police officer.

A hunt has been launched to track down the assailants.

A little-known outfit, Kashmir Tigers, has claimed responsibility for Bhat’s killing, PTI reported.

There has been a spurt in attacks on local politicians, unarmed policemen, non-Muslims and migrant workers living in Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.

As many as 14 people belonging to Jammu and Kashmir’s minority Hindu community, including Kashmiri Pandits, were killed by militants between August 2019 and March 2022.

Those targeted by the extremists included prominent businessmen, sarpanchs and block development council members in various parts of Kashmir.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and political parties in Kashmir condemned Bhat’s killing.

“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 Govt stands in solidarity with the bereaved family in this hour of grief,” Sinha tweeted.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) tweeted, “We unequivocally condemn the killing of Rahul Bhat ji, who was working as an employee in revenue dept Budgam.  Despite deployment of security forces in every nook & corner of the valley, even govt offices aren’t safe. Our thoughts, prayers are with the family in this hour of grief.”

Peoples Conference chairman, Sajad Lone strongly condemned the killing.

“Strongly condemn the killing of Rahul. It is difficult to read the minds of these psychopaths who indulge in such killings. Yet another family is added to the list of victims of violence. May the departed soul rest in peace,” Lone tweeted.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said, “I unequivocally condemn the murderous militant attack on Rahul Bhat. Rahul was a government employee working in the Tehsil office in Chadoora where he was attacked. Targeted killings continue & a sense of fear grows unchecked. My heartfelt condolences to Rahul’s family. RIP.”

“This young man had his entire life ahead of him & to know that his life was so cruelly extinguished today is tragic,” he said.

BJP spokesman Altaf Thakur strongly denounced the “cowardly act by terrorists”.

“The attackers must be brought to justice,” he added.

CPI (M) leader Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami also condemned  the killing of Kashmiri Pandit employee Rahul Bhat in Chadoora area of Budgam and termed the incident as unfortunate, tragic and said such barbaric incidents have no place in a civilised society.

“Such brutal killings are harmful for the society and can’t be justified under any circumstances”, he added.

While expressing condolence to the bereaved family, he demanded an immediate end to the killings.

The Congress, while condemning the killing, said the perpetrators of such heinous crimes should know that they cannot achieve anything by such inhuman acts.

The Peoples Conference led by Sajad Lone also condemned the killing and extended sympathies and unwavering support to the family of the victim.

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