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Sopore turns red again as shopkeeper is shot by militants

Sopore turns red again as shopkeeper is shot by militants

Sopore, the apple town of Kashmir, bled again today, with suspected gunmen of a Hizbul Mujahideen faction led by Qayum Nazarwala killing a shopkeeper, in third civilian killing in the north Kashmir town this week.

Mehraj-ud-din Bhat, who ran a poultry shop, was shot dead just outside his shop-cum-residence at Badamibagh while he was selling chicken to a customer, officials said.

Eyewitnesses said the assailants came in a van and called aloud his name. As Bhat turned towards them, the militants fired five rounds at close range. Bhat was rushed to the district hospital where he was declared brought dead.

Though no militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the killing, it is widely believed that Nazarwala faction is behind the recent incidents of eliminating people who have been either critical of the gun culture or have abandoned militant ranks.

Bhat had joined JKLF and surrendered in late 1990s. After serving a prison term, he joined his family business. Today, his two daughters aged 12 and nine, are too shocked to ponder over their future while their inconsolable mother cries uncontrollably with mourners pouring into their two-storey house.

Locals talk in hushed tones about followers of Al-Hadees and Hanfi sects of Islam being targeted in the recent attacks that have taken place in Sopore, some 52 km from Jammu and Kashmir capital Srinagar.

The town famous for apples saw gunning down of a shopkeeper on Friday night while a government employee, who was an activist of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, was killed on Tuesday. Fear is palpable with fresh diktats emerging on the streets quite frequently these days with a hand-written poster claiming to be from Jammu and Kashmir Tehrek-e-Taliban directing people not to watch TV, consume liquor or allow movement of women without veil. The diktats bear a striking similarity with those imposed by the Taliban in Afghanistan and ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

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