Kashmir village head killed and tourist couple injured in militant attacks amid elections

Kashmir village head killed and tourist couple injured in militant attacks amid elections

A village head was killed and a tourist couple from the northern state of Rajasthan injured in two separate militant attacks in the federal territory of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday amid India’s ongoing general elections.

The tourist couple, identified in local media by their first names Farha and Tabrez, was injured after gunmen began firing at a camp in Yannar in Anantnag late on Saturday night, police said ahead of voting scheduled in the volatile region.

The couple from Jaipur was evacuated to the hospital and the area where the attack took place was cordoned off, Kashmir police said on social media. The condition of the injured tourists is said to be stable, they said.

In a separate incident, unknown militants shot dead former village headman and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Ajiaz Ahmad Sheikh in Shopian district. The last major attack on tourists in Kashmir had happened in 2017 when a Hindu pilgrimage bus was targeted, killing eight people.

“My younger son went on a tour on 13 May. When they were going to a hotel, two people came on a motorbike and opened fire on them. Both of them got injured. I request the Indian government to bring them from Srinagar to AIIMS Delhi and provide them with the best medical facilities,” Tabrez’s father was quoted as saying in local media.

The incidents happened two days before Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) elections were due to be held in Kashmir’s Baramulla. Major parties in Kashmir, the National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), have focused on restoration of semi-autonomy in their campaigns.

The conflict-torn and sensitive valley is voting for the first time since prime minister Narendra Modi’s administration directly brought it under its control in 2019. The move was widely dubbed as contentious as the legislation was passed by placing a majority of Kashmir’s opposition leaders and political activists under house arrest. The Modi government also implemented an internet and communication blackout in the region.

Analysts and opposition parties say the BJP is not contesting elections in Kashmir because it fears the outcome will contradict its narrative of a more peaceful and integrated region since 2019.

Additional inputs from agencies