Teacher Rajni Bala’s murder was the month’s seventh targeted killing—three off-duty policemen and four civilians, with TV artiste Amreena Bhat and Kashmiri Pandit government clerk Rahul Bhat among them.
Police said terrorists fired at Rajni after husband Raj Kumar, who is also a teacher, dropped her in front of her school in the morning. She was taken to hospital, but couldn’t be saved. She had suffered severe blood loss from multiple bullet wounds. Rajni and Raj were posted at government schools in Kulgam, where they have been living for the past seven years with their daughter, 13.
Her death set off protest in Samba amid renewed calls for police protection to “migrant” government employees, especially those from the minority Hindu community, living and working in the Valley, and a demand that they be shifted/transferred to Jammu or elsewhere.
J&K saw angry protests after terrorists gunned down revenue department clerk Rahul Bhat, a 35-year-old Kashmiri Pandit from Jammu, at the crowded tehsil office of Chadoora in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on May 12. The attack on Rajni was the fourth against the Valley’s Hindu minority this year. Terrorists killed Satish Kumar Singh, a Rajput, in Kulgam district on April 13 and a Kashmiri Pandit was critically wounded in the same district on April 4.
Rajni’s brother-in-law Vijay Kumar, a veterinarian, said the couple had spoken about “outsiders” living in fear in the Valley when the family last visited their native village, Nanke Chak in Samba, two months ago. “We had asked them to request authorities to transfer them to Jammu,” Rajni’s father-in-law Ram Lal said.
That fear stemmed from a heightened terrorist offensive against migrants and civilians from outside Kashmir who came in search of jobs or found employment through a government reservation programme. Seven civilians were killed in October 2021—among them a Kashmiri Pandit, a Sikh school principal in Srinagar, and two non-local Hindus. Besides, as many as 14 Hindus have been killed in Kashmir between August 2019 and March 2022.
Women have become particularly vulnerable after terrorists gunned down TV artiste and singer Amreena Bhat, 35, at Hushroo in the Chadoora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on May 25. She was reportedly targeted for acting and singing—considered “immoral” by terrorist outfits and ultraconservative organisations.
J&K lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha condemned Rajni’s murder and said the assailants will be given an “unforgettable response”. J&K police said the terrorists will be “identified and neutralised” soon.
Politicians suggested authorities either protect the employees or transfer them to safer locations. “The administration must post these employees in safer places and provide them with secure accommodations,” said CPM’s MY Tarigami, wondering when this “bloodletting” would end.
Omar Abdullah, former J&K CM of National Conference, said he was saddened by “yet another targeted killing in a long list of recent attacks directed at unarmed civilians”. BJP spokesman Altaf Thakur condemned the “dastardly act”. “Attacking unarmed civilians, that too women, is no bravery but an act of frustration,” he said. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti lashed out at the government for claiming that normality has returned in Kashmir.
According to intelligence sources, targeting soft targets like unarmed civilians, especially migrants, is part of a new plan devised by Pakistan’s ISI for terrorists in Kashmir. The Pakistani spy agency hopes to arouse and play on local fears against migrant workers taking up all jobs, and thereby revive the waning support against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in J&K, they said.