Two labourers hailing from Uttar Pradesh were killed apparently in their sleep when terrorists lobbed a grenade at them on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday in militancy-infested Shopian district of South Kashmir, officials said.
The incident took place at around 12.30 am on Tuesday when the victims identified as Monish Kumar and Ram Sagar, natives of UP's Kannauj district, were sleeping in a tin shed constructed as an out house, the officials said, adding the duo was working in the apple orchards as labourers.
The fresh attack came two days after terrorists shot dead Kashmiri pandit Puran Krishan Bhat outside his house at Gund village in the same district.
The labourers, who had come to the Kashmir valley two months ago, were rushed to a hospital where they succumbed to their injuries.
Additional Director General of Police (Kashmir range) Vijay Kumar said a hybrid terrorist of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba group, who lobbed the grenade, has been arrested, along with another person who is believed to be working for banned Hizbul Mujahideen terror group.
Hybrid terrorists are unlisted radicalised youths who carry out terror strikes and slip back into their routine lives often without leaving any trace.
Talking to media in Shopian, Kumar said raids had been carried out immediately after the unfortunate news about the killings came and "we have been able to arrest two persons involved in the heinous crime while search is on for the others".
"We will soon neutralise the Lashkar-e-Taiba man who was behind this attack," he added.
The arrested terrorist was identified as Imran Bashir Ganie from Harmen, the additional DGP said, claiming that he has also confessed about his involvement.
Meanwhile, Kannauj District Magistrate Shubhrant Kumar Shukla said the victims, natives of Danna Purwa village under the Thatia police station area, had gone to Kashmir two months ago and were working as labourers in Shopian.
Kannauj Superintendent of Police Kunwar Anupam Singh said, "After the post-mortem of the deceased labourers is done, their bodies will be brought to Lucknow by an aircraft. From Lucknow, the bodies will reach their village by road."
The killings drew criticism from administration as well as political parties with Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha saying that "words cannot adequately condemn today's barbaric terror attack on Manish Kumar and Ram Sagar from Kannauj, UP...
"...security apparatus has been directed to launch coordinated CT (counter terror) ops".
He said the Shopian district administration has deputed senior officers to make arrangements for transportation of the mortal remains of the two men to their respective villages with full honours.
"Terrorism is a curse for the civilised society. People from every community must come together to condemn heinous acts and root out terror and its elements," he added.
Former chief minister and vice president of National Conference Omar Abdullah termed the killing as "unacceptable and indefensible targeted attack against minorities in Kashmir".
"My heartfelt condolences to the families of Monish Kumar & Ram Sagar, may they find strength at the difficult time. Prayers for the souls of the deceased," he tweeted.
Another former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said it was "distressing to know that two labourers were killed in an attack. At the risk of sounding repetitive, there is no sense of security and dignity for anyone living in J-K. These issues will be resolved only when GOI acknowledges that they exist".
Veteran politician and CPM leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami termed the killing as "shocking" and said "two poor labourers who had come to earn their livelihood lost their lives to a despicable attack. Each one of us must raise our voice to condemn such barbaric acts of violence".
Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari said, "Deeply shocked over the killing of two labourers in Shopian. I condemn this heinous and despicable act of violence. The vicious circle of violence must stop now. The perpetrators of the attack must be held accountable and brought to justice."
People's Conference chief Sajad Lone also condemned the attack. "Waking up to the horrific news of the dastardly killing of two people who happen to be non locals. Their journey to earn a livelihood ends in blood bath at the hands of goons. These goons will rot in hell Inshallah.
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