Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  The recent spike in attacks on non-Muslim civilians in Kashmir Valley could be an attempt by militant outfits to puncture the central government’s claim of restoring normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, feel some senior officials.

According to sources in intelligence agencies, the terrorists have plans to carry out more civilian killings in Jammu and Kashmir, targeting more members of the minority communities living in Anantnag and Kulgam regions. “There are specific inputs about the possibility of targeted killings in around 10 colonies where non-Muslims have a sizeable population,” a senior intelligence official told this newspaper. 

The official added that the intel was generated on Friday, a day after two government teachers were shot dead in downtown Srinagar. Latest intel suggests that terrorists want to send a message of “no normalcy” in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s scheduled visit to the Valley this month, another top security official said. 

With these attacks, the official said, terrorists wanted to puncture the narrative of the Centre that abrogation of Article 370 had led to “revival of normalcy, boosted tourism and full integration of J&K with rest of India”, and instead create an atmosphere of fear and insecurity, particularly among the minority communities.

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Meanwhile, an analysis of government data reveals that more people from minority communities have been killed by militants in J&K this year compared to last year, though the total number of civilians killed in the UT this year is fewer than the number of civilians killed in 2019 and 2020 (as on October 5 for all years). The data, analysed by this newspaper, comes amid widespread panic among minorities in the Valley over the spate of targeted killings over the last one week. Many Kashmiri Pandits have reportedly fled the Valley while many more are in the process of leaving their homes.

As of October 5 this year, as many as 29 civilians have been killed in the newly carved UT. Of these, five were non-Muslims. Last year till October 5, as many as 37 civilians, including three non-Muslims were killed in terror incidents. The year 2019, when the erstwhile state was split into two union territories and its special status revoked, saw a higher number of civilian casualties during the corresponding period. Thirty four Muslims and six non-Muslims lost lives to terror attacks till October 5, 2019.

MORE THAN 300 DETAINEDThe local police have detained over 300 people for questioning in the case of civilian killings. Many more are expected to be detained and questioned over the course of next one week