SRINAGAR — The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will probe the recent targeted killing of four civilians in Jammu and Kashmir. The investigation agency has been mandated by the Union Home Ministry to investigate the ‘larger conspiracy’ behind the killings, NDTV reported on Tuesday quoting unnamed sources.
The agency is expected to take over inquiries into the killing of Makhan Lal Bindroo, Virender Paswan, Supinder Kaur and Deepak Chand, as well as that of two labourers from Bihar.
The two Bihar labourers — Raja Rishidev and Yogendra Rishidev — were the most recent reported deaths. They were shot dead by suspected militants in Wanpoh area of Kulgam district on Sunday.
Their deaths came a day after a golgappa seller from Bihar and a carpenter from Uttar Pradesh were shot dead in the valley. The golgappa seller, Arbind Kumar Sah, was shot at from point-blank range in Srinagar and the carpenter, Sagir Ahmad, was killed in Pulwama, police said.
Other victims include 70-year-old ML Bindroo, a prominent member of the Kashmiri Pandit community and the owner of a pharmacy in Srinagar, who was one of three people killed October 5 when the wave of attacks started.
The others killed on the day were Mohammad Shafi Lone, a taxi driver in Bandipora district, and Virender Paswan, a street food vendor, also from Bihar.
Two days later, on October 7, two teachers at a government school in Srinagar were shot dead — Supinder Kaur and Deepak Chand.
Of those killed so far, five are from other states and there appears to be no particular community that has been targeted; Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs are among those killed.
Either way, the killings have sparked fear in the valley. Dozens of families, including those of government employees who returned after getting jobs under the Prime Minister’s special scheme, have left the valley in the recent day.
Migrant labourers and workers from other states have also begun leaving J&K; the neighbour of one of those killed told NDTV he was leaving because he was scared for his family’s safety.
Government forces have launched a massive crackdown and have detained about 900 people for alleged links to organisations like the banned Jamaat-e-Islami. Police have also attributed some attacks to The Resistance Front, believed to be an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Anti-militant operations have also been intensified, with two militants, including a Lashkar commander, killed in Pulwama district on Saturday. The day before, police said two militants allegedly involved in the killing of two civilians and a cop were killed in back-to-back gunfights.
Last week, police said they had killed the militant involved in the killing of the cab driver.
The spate of attacks has come at a time when the army is engaged in one of its longest and toughest anti-militancy operations in Poonch district. Nine Indian troopers have been killed in such fierce fighting.