SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir – Sitting in a room filled with mourners in Alochi Bagh, Srinagar, Ramesh Pal Singh, a 45-year-old officer in the Jammu and Kashmir Bank, said that he was in his office when he received a WhatsApp with photos of the two teachers shot dead in Srinagar earlier that day.
“When I zoomed in on the pictures, I saw my wife lying dead on the ground,” he said. “Yesterday, a local told me that the government had asked people from minority communities to remain alert for possible attacks. I told him, ‘we are civilians and nobody would harm us.’”
Inder Pal Singh, 42, said that he could not fathom why his sister-in-law, 43, had been shot dead.
“She is a mother of two children, a 13-year-old and a four-year-old. Who will look after them now?” he said.
Supinder Kour, the principal of Government Higher Secondary School, Sangam, and a teacher, Deepak Chand, were shot dead by militants earlier today, the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Police have said.
Kour’s relatives told us that she was at the school, some eight kilometers away from her house in the Eidgah area of Srinagar, when unidentified men entered the premises and asked the two teachers to come into the lawn, where they were shot at point-blank range.
The body of Deepak Chand, who hails from Jammu, is with the police. We are trying to reach his relatives and will update this copy if they respond.
The Resistance Force (TRF), reportedly an affiliate of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, floated after the Narendra Modi government revoked J&K’s special status on 5 August 2019, claimed responsibility for killing the two teachers in Srinagar today. “The Shaheed Gazi Squad carried out the targeted attack on two non-locals who were domicile holders and had harassed the parents of the students to salute the occupier’s flag on August 15,” they said in a statement.
The J&K Police is under fire for the alarming spate of civilian deaths in recent days, and no arrests.
“This is an attempt to defame local Muslims of Kashmir. Killing innocent civilians including teachers is a move to attack and damage the age-old tradition of communal harmony and brotherhood in Kashmir,” J&K Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh said on Thursday. “I talked to staff members of the school and they are in total shock over losing two colleagues. Police will nab the killers very soon.”
Former Chief Minister and People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government about the spree of killings in Kashmir. On Twitter, Mufti wrote, “Disturbing to see the deteriorating situation in Kashmir where a minuscule minority is the latest target. The government of India’s claims of building a Naya Kashmir has actually turned it into a hellhole. Its sole interest is to use Kashmir as a milch cow for its electoral interests.”
With these two latest murders today, five civilians have been killed in Srinagar since Tuesday, and seven since Saturday.
On Saturday, militants shot dead Majid Ahmad Gojri and Mohammad Shafi Dar in Srinagar, the police said.
On Tuesday, Makhan Lal Bindroo, Srinagar’s most famous chemist, Virender Paswan, a street vendor from Bihar, who was working in Srinagar, and Mohammad Shafi Lone, who ran a taxi stand in Bandipora district, were shot dead.
The TRF also has claimed responsibility for killing Bindroo, Paswan Lone, Gojri, and Dar.
On Thursday, Jasjeet Singh, Kour’s four-year-old son, walked around the room filled with mourners, a loaf of bread in his hands. He had not been made aware of his mother’s passing.
Jasheen Kour, her 13-year-old daughter, sat quietly in the kitchen.
Razia Jan, Kour’s colleague from school, who was among the mourners, described her as the “most humble and generous teacher.”
“She used to donate money for poor students and would pool money to make small repairs in the school building. Today, we felt a part of our body had been cut from us. We have no words to describe how humane she was,” she said.