Shopian: Militants sent a chilling reminder to the Jammu and Kashmir administered government when they shot dead a truck driver from Rajasthan and set ablaze his vehicle ferrying apples, in south kashmir on October 14.

The incident took place in Shirmal Village located in Shopian district of South Kashmir, at around 7. 30 PM Monday. An eye witness said, “When the truck driver was trying to load apples, a five-member group of heavily armed militants surfaced near the village and hijacked the truck along with the driver. After a few kilometres, the militants asked the driver to stop and reportedly took him away from the vehicle. He was shot at a point-blank range. He received 5 bullets on his face and body. He died on the spot.”

The militants later set the truck on fire before leaving the spot. The deceased is a native of Rajasthan.

The Jammu & Kashmir Police have registered a case and have launched a massive hunt to nab the militants. Preliminary investigation revealed that the militants were associated with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and were headed by the district commanders.

This is the second incident that rocked Kashmir in the last one month.

On September 6, militants stormed a house of a prominent apple grower by name Hamid Ullah. Four people including top apple grower Hamidullah Rather and five-year-old girl were injured in the incident.

Mudasir Ahmad Pandith alias Maaz Bhai and Sajjad Ahmad Mir alias Hyder are the prime accused in the September 6 failed assassination bid on the prominent apple grower’s home and the central brain behind the current unrest in the apple- rich town of Sopore.

While one of their aides Asif was killed in a chance encounter, police have gone into an overdrive announcing Rs 5 lakh bounty on Pandith and Rs 10 lakh on Mir. Posters have been put up across Sopore seeking information about the duo.

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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