Civilian Killings In Kashmir: Tumult Under The Unsettling Silence?

After the abrogation of Article 370, claims of ‘normalcy’ have been made repeatedly by the centre. However, the targeted killings of civilians in terror attacks in Kashmir since 2019 puncture this claim.

An Indian Army soldier stands guard near the Line of Control (LoC), in Poonch district of Jammu & Kashmir Photo: PTI

Union government has continuously claimed that normalcy prevails in Kashmir since abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019. However, on May 18 there were two separate terror attacks in the valley in which one local politician was killed and a tourist couple was injured. The attacks took place just days before Baramulla is slated to vote in the fifth phase of the on-going Lok Sabha elections 2024 on May 20.

These are not isolated incidents. Since 2019, Kashmir has been witnessing sporadic incidents of killings of civilians; victims include politicians, teachers, and migrant workers. Has Kashmir really achieved ‘normalcy’? Going by the incidents of killings of civilians, the claim seems to fall short. Here are some major incidents that took place in the valley post abrogation of Article 370:

On the night of October 14, 2019, a truck driver from Rajasthan was killed in Shopian district of South Kashmir. The driver was transporting apples from the region; two-three militants shot him dead while some bullets hit the fuel tank of the truck and it caught fire.

On October 16, 2019, in two separate attacks a trader from Punjab and a migrant worker from Chhattisgarh were killed in Shopian and Pulwama, respectively.

On October 29, 2019, five migrant workers from West Bengal were pulled out of their rented accommodation and gunned down in a brutal killing.

In October 2021, the valley once again saw a series of killings of civilians. On October 2, Mohammad Shafi Dar was killed by militants for his links with security forces. So was Majid Ahmad Gojri on October 2 in another attack.

On October 5, a pharmacist Makhan Lal Bindroo was shot dead in his shop in Srinagar. He was a prominent Kashmiri Pandit. The same day a street vendor, Virender Paswan, who hailed from Bihar was also shot dead in Srinagar’s Lal Bazar.  

Supinder Kaur, a government school principal in Srinagar, was killed by militants inside the school premises on October 7. Deepak Chand, a teacher was also killed in this attack; he was from Jammu.

On October 16, a carpenter from Uttar Pradesh, Sagir Ahmed, was shot dead by terrorists according to police.  Same day a street vendor, Arbind Kumar Shah was also killed; he was from Bihar.

On October 18, two migrant workers from Bihar were shot dead by alleged terrorists inside a rented shop he stayed in.

In December 2022, data released by the Jammu and Kashmir police the year witnessed killings of 29 civilians; the number was higher than the victims of the security forces. The civilians who were killed were mostly from minority communities and non-Kashmiris.

In February 2023, a 45-year-old Kashmiri pandit was shot dead in Pulwama. He was on his way to the local market when suspected terrorists fired at him.

On May 18, 2024, a Bharatiya Janta Party’s local politician who was also former sarpanch was killed in Shopian. While in another attack in Anantnag, tourists were targeted; there were no causalities in this attack but a couple from Jaipur was injured and taken to hospital.