J&K police identify two militants who killed a truck driver: Massive hunt launched to nab killers

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir police have achieved a major breakthrough on Tuesday when they identified the militants who killed a truck driver in Shopian on Monday.

Preliminary investigations revealed that around four militants appeared in the Shirmal village on Monday evening. Of the four, two hijacked the truck and shot dead the driver. One of the two militants has been identified as being a Pakistani. Another militant has been identified as Rahil Magrey.

Police suspects that Hizbul Mujahideen district commander Naveed Babu is the mastermind behind the crime. A massive hunt has been launched to nab Babu and his associates, including Magrey and the Pakistani national. Sources mentioned that the motive behind the killing was to spread terror among villagers.

“We have identified the group. Two of them including a Pakistani and Rahil were part of the action team which killed the trucker. Two others were covering the militants in the village,” said a police officer.

Militants on Monday evening appeared in Shirmal village and hijacked the truck along with the driver. After covering a few kilometres, they took the driver away and shot him point-blank. Later, they set the truck ablaze before fleeing from the spot. The slain truck driver has been identified as Sharief Khan from Rajasthan

Fear has gripped the fruit growers after the incident. A large quantity of apple crop lies in the orchards and warehouses waiting to be exported to outside the state markets. Fruit growers fear that they may not be able to transport the apple as truckers will not be ready to ship their produce. “We have decided to shift our produce to cold storage. They charge us Rs 35 per box per month. It is still a good deal given the prevailing situation,” said a fruit grower.

Kashmir’s fruit season starts in May when the first batch of cherry is harvested. Pears follow it, and other fruits will hit the market in the following months. Apple is almost the last to hit the market in autumn. The bulk of the apples is exported to in Delhi. Some of the crop is also sold in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and other cities.

Horticulture is the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy with seven lakh families directly and indirectly associated with the sector. Horticulture contributes to seven per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of Jammu and Kashmir.

More than 3.38 lakh hectares of land is under fruit cultivation in the valley. Of which 1.62 lakh hectares is under apple cultivation. Last year, fruit production including dry fruits touched 23.30 lakh tonnes compared to 22.34 lakh tonnes in 2017.

Jammu and Kashmir is the largest producer of apple in the country with production touching 18.28 lakh metric tonnes last year. The apple production was 17.27 lakh metric tonnes in 2017.

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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