Today: Jun 19, 2024

Minor siblings among 6 killed in two attacks in Rajouri within 14 hours; protests in many areas

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Rajouri/Jammu: A minor sister-brother duo were killed and six others injured in what was the second attack at the same site within 14 hours in Rajouri, on Monday.

Sanvi Sharma (7) and Vihan Kumar Sharma (4) were killed in the IED blast in Dangri village “where terrorists had opened fire at three houses on Sunday evening, killing four civilians and injuring six others,” according to officials.

Kanaya Sharma (14), Vanshu Sharma (15), Samiksha Devi (20), Sharda Devi (38), Kamlesh Devi (55) and Samiksha Sharma have been injured, they said, adding that they are undergoing treatment at a hospital.

The explosion took place near the house of Pritam Lal, a victim of the attack on Sunday evening, locals said. There were several people, including Lal’s relatives, in the house when the blast took place at around 9.30 am.

As the incidents led to protests across the district, including in Rajouri town, and a complete shutdown, Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh, who visited the protest site at Dangri Chowk, said that the IED blast was intended to target senior officers who were about to reach there.

He announced that village defense committees (VDCs) will now be revived and rearmed after some protesting leaders and locals claimed that the incident could have been averted had the authorities not taken away the weapons of VDCs.

Senior J&K BJP leader and former MLC Vibodh Gupta alleged that 60 percent of the guns of VDCs have been taken back.

The DGP also met the protesters who were refusing to conduct the last rites of the victims.

The VDCs were first set up in the mid-1990s in the Chenab Valley area of Jammu to arm and train villagers to defend against terrorists and comprise villagers as well as Special Police Officers (SPOs).

Officials said a team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has reached Dangri village for an investigation.

Medical Superintendent of Government Medical College (GMC) Rajouri  Mehmood H. Bajar confirmed the death of four persons in the firing incident.

“The improvised explosive device (IED) was planted beneath a bag,” Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Jammu, Mukesh Singh told reporters in Rajouri.

The army and police are conducting a massive search operation, the senior police officer, who reached the spot along with Jammu-Divisional Commissioner Ramesh Kumar, said.

He said that locals have reported that two terrorists are involved in the attack.

DGP Dilbag Singh said, “I came because it was more important to be in solidarity with the families. So instead of heading to Kashmir, I came straight away. Do not forget this incident. There may be more IEDs as well.”

The DGP said that the people of Rajouri have bravely fought terrorism in the past. “I am sad over the killings. It is a matter of grief. It is time to give a boost to VDCs”.

“No guns will be taken away…, if some guns have been taken away, they will be returned (to VDCs) and more guns will be provided if needed,” he said.

“Let us not disrespect the bodies and conduct cremation of the bodies,” he urged the protesters.

The injured in the Monday incident- Kanaya Sharma (14), Vanshu Sharma (15), Samiksha Devi (20), Sharda Devi (38), Kamlesh Devi (55) and Samiksha Sharma – were admitted to the hospital.

On Sunday’s attack, Singh said two terrorists fired on three houses in which four people were killed and six injured. The condition of the injured is stable, he said.

These are the first such incidents in the past many years in the otherwise peaceful Jammu region.

Village Sarpanch (headman) Deepak Kumar said that it was a serious security lapse on the part of police and security agencies.

“It is a serious security lapse by security agencies. Minority community people do not feel secure. The administration should take tough measures,” he told reporters in Rajouri.

Protesters carried the bodies of those killed in Sunday’s attack in a procession and kept them at Dangri Chowk.

They demanded that Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha should come to meet them so that they can put their demands before him.

Several senior administration and police officials tried to persuade the protesters to conduct the last rites of the victims but in vain.

The protesters said that if the LG does not come to them by this evening, they will not cremate the bodies till Union Home Minister Amit Shah meets them.

In Jammu, protests against Pakistan were held by VHP, Bajrang Dal, Mission Statehood, Shiv Sena and Dogra Front.

Injured being rushed to hospital after an explosion at Dangri village. Photo: PTI