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Kashmir: Hindu bank manager killed amid wave of violence

June 2, 2022

Kashmir police said militants killed the bank manager and a factory worker. A wave of killings has hit Kashmir, prompting dozens of Hindu families to flee the region.

Indian paramilitary soldiers on patrol in Kashmir
Over a dozen Hindus and Muslims have died in the recent violence in KashmirImage: Mukhtar Khan/AP/picture alliance

A Hindu bank manager was shot in what police called a "terror incident" in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Thursday.

At least 16 people, both Hindu and Muslim, have been killed in a series of targeted attacks this year in Kashmir, where India has been fighting an armed insurgency since the late 1980s. 

Both India and neighboring Pakistan claim the Himalayan territory in full, but they control only parts of it.

Bank manager Vijay Kumar was attacked inside a branch of the Ellaquai Dehati Bank in southern Kashmir's Kulgam. It was the same place where a schoolteacher had been shot dead two days earlier, local police said.

Video footage circulating on social media purportedly showed a masked assailant walking into the bank and firing shots at the bank manager with what appeared to be a handgun.

"He received grievous gunshot injuries in this terror incident," Kashmir police said in a tweet, later adding that Kumar, originally from western Rajasthan state, had succumbed to his wounds.

The militant group "Kashmir Freedom Fighters" claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack on social media. 

Militants also shot two Hindu workers at a brick factory near Chadoora town on Thursday night, killing one of them, police said in a statement. 

Kashmir journalists under pressure

Hindu families flee

Many Hindu families had returned to Kashmir over the past decade as part of a government resettlement plan that provided them with jobs and housing.

But the recent violence has reportedly forced many of them to flee the area. According to a community leader, more than 100 families left after the schoolteacher was killed. 

Hindu government employees also staged protests, demanding the government relocate them from Kashmir to safer areas, accusing Delhi of making them "cannon fodder'' to showcase normalcy in the troubled region that didn't exist.

"The only solution is relocation," protesters chanted.

Hindu employees demand to be relocated after a schoolteacher was murdered
The murder of a Hindu schoolteacher prompted protests and demands for relocationImage: Channi Anand/AP/picture alliance

Tensions building since 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government in 2019 split Jammu and Kashmir, then India's only Muslim-majority state, into two-federally administered territories, stripping Kashmir of its semi-autonomous state. He promised to improve development and security in the region.

But the government enacted a slew of changes, such as issuing "domicile certificates'' to Indians and non-residents that granted them residency rights and government jobs. Delhi also removed inherited protections on land and jobs during a monthslong lockdown and communication blockade.

Muslims in Kashmir have viewed such moves as aimed at engineering demographic change in India's only Muslim-majority region.

 jcg/nm (dpa, AFP)

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