Killing evokes widespread mourning, condemnation
Anantnag: A female migrant teacher, from the Jammu division, was today shot at and killed by unidentified gunmen inside the school she was posted at, here in Kulgam district of South Kashmir.
The incident comes about a fortnight after a Kashmiri Pandit employee of the Revenue department was shot at and killed inside his office in the Chadoora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district. The killing of Rahul Bhat had sent shockwaves across Kashmir, particularly amongst the Pandit community, who are still holding protest sit-ins across Kashmir.
The slain lady from the Samba district of Jammu has been identified as Rajni Devi, wife of Rajkumar. She taught at the Government High School in the Gopalpora area of Kulgam district.
“Militants shot at her inside the school premises. She was critically wounded and rushed to the Kulgam district hospital, where she was declared brought dead,” a senior police official from the area said.
A health official said that Rajni has multiple bullet wounds, including one in her head. “She had died on the way to the hospital,” the health official said.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, confirmed the incident and has said that the militants behind this will be identified soon. “They will be identified and neutralized,” he said, adding that searches for the attackers were launched soon after the shootout took place.
The killing today was mourned by people across religious lines, here in Kulgam district today. Women, children, and men wailed and lamented as Rajni Devi was brought out of the hospital in a wooden coffin.
Former Rajya Sabha member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Nazir Ahmad Laway, reached the hospital soon as the news of Rajni’s killing spread. “She was a tenant at my house for the last ten years now,” Laway told media men, as he criticized the administration for the “false claims” of normalcy in Kashmir valley.
“People are scared for their lives, there is no normalcy in Kashmir. They claim that elections will be held soon but I don’t think it can happen,” Laway said, adding that his own brother works at the same school where Rajni was shot dead.
Condemnations poured in soon after the news of the killing spread. Former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, took a dig at the administration while he condemned the “targeted” attack on Rajni.
“Words of condemnation and condolence ring hollow as do the assurances of the government that they will not rest till the situation normalizes,” Omar posted on the micro-blogging site Twitter, “May the deceased rest in peace,”
Another former Chief Minister and PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti, condemned the killing and has said that such incidents play into the vicious anti-muslim narrative of the BJP.
“Despite GOI’s fake claims about Kashmir being normal, it is obvious targeted civilian killings are on the rise and a deep cause of concern,” Mufti said, “Condemn this act of cowardice which sadly plays into the vicious anti-muslim narrative spun by the BJP,”
Other politicians in Kashmir and elsewhere were also vocal about condemning the killing.
There has been a series of attacks on non-locals, Kashmiri Pandits, politically affiliated local Muslims, and off-duty policemen across the Kashmir valley throughout the last more than two months now.
Police have been quick in pinning the blame of the attacks on militants killed in gunfights, soon after these attacks are carried out. The killings and the attacks have continued nevertheless.
Recently a TV actress was shot at and killed, while her 10-year-old nephew was injured, in a similar attack – in Budgam district of central Kashmir. Less than 24 hours after the attack police said that the militants involved in her killing were neutralized during a gunfight in the Awantipora area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.