SRINAGAR: Terror revisited Kashmir on Tuesday when militants attacked a joint gathering of officials and local people. The incident at Hakoora village of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district left a panchayat representative and an official dead.

Police said that militants lobbed a grenade when government officials were holding a meeting with Panchayat members and local people under the ambitious Back-to-Village programme. The scheme aimed at taking governance to people’s doorstep at Hakoora village.

SP Pani, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, said, “Militants lobbed a grenade. A couple of people are seriously injured or dead. I am ascertaining it.” Sources said that heavily armed militants appeared in the village and threw a grenade followed by indiscriminate firing in which two people were killed. One of them is said to be a panchayat representative.

Panic gripped the area with people running helter-skelter for safety. Police and security forces immediately cordoned off the area and launched an operation to track down the militants responsible for the incident.

Under the Back-to-Village 2.0, which was launched on Monday, senior government officials will visit far-flung villages to interact with people and redress their grievances on the spot. Back-to-Village 1.0 was held before the abrogation of Article 370 when Jammu and Kashmir was a state.

This attack is the second incident that rocked Kashmir in four hours on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, panic gripped the University of Kashmir after a mysterious explosion ripped through its main entrance at Hazratbal in Srinagar. Three people were injured in the incident, which occurred in the afternoon when the university was bustling with activities.

Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Central Kashmir Range, VK Birdhi said that there was some kind of blast outside the gate of University of Kashmir this afternoon. “We are trying to ascertain the nature of the blast. Since there are shops dealing with LPG located outside the university, we are looking into that angle as well. Three people have suffered injuries in the incident,” he said.

It is the sixth blast since October 12 in the Kashmir valley. On October 12, eight people were injured when militants threw a grenade at Hari Singh High Street in Srinagar. On October 23, a CRPF jawan suffered minor wounds in a grenade attack in Kulgam district of South Kashmir.

Three days later, on October 26, militants threw a grenade on CRPF naka party at Karan Nagar injuring six soldiers. Two days later on October 28, terror revisited apple rich town of Sopore when militants launched another grenade attack wounding 14 civilians.

On November 4, militants sent a chilling reminder to the new union territory administration on Monday when they threw a grenade at Hari Singh High Street in Srinagar’s nerve centre of Lal Chowk, killing two civilians and injuring more than 24 — two of them critically.

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Ishfaq Ul Hassan

An accredited journalist with 22 years of professional experience, Ishfaq-Ul-Hassan has worked as a reporter based in Kashmir for two decades. He has covered various beats including militancy, politics, defence, minorities, social issues, religious groups and women issues in Kashmir. He had previously worked as Special Correspondent in Jammu and Kashmir for DNA (Daily News and Analysis) Newspaper for 13 years. Ishfaq is also associated with the New Delhi- based television company `Asia Pacific Communication Associates’ which produced the famous series “Subah-Bakhar-Kashmir” for satellite Kashmir channel of Doordarshan. In 2004, he was awarded the Charkha-Sanjoy Ghosh Fellowship for Peace and Development for his research on families divided across the LOC in Kashmir.

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