Srinagar: Militants killed Tuesday a sarpanch and a horticulture department officer during a ‘back-to-village’ programme in south Kashmir’s Anantnag, an incident which may deal a blow to the government’s much-acclaimed public outreach initiative in some militancy-hit areas. The militants lobbed a grenade during the meeting and the resultant blast led to the death of two people.
The Additional Deputy Commissioner of Anantnag, who was leading the meeting with villagers at Badazgam, was escorted out of the venue safely as security personnel engaged with the militants, officials said.
Three persons – village sarpanch Rafiq Shah and government employees Manzoor Parray and Zahoor Ahmed Sheikh – suffered injuries and were rushed to the district hospital. Shah and Sheikh succumbed to their injuries at the hospital, they informed. Parray was rushed to a hospital in Srinagar and his condition was stated to be critical.
Other government officials, including Joint Director (Education) Bilal Khursheed, were taken away from the venue.
The second phase of ‘back-to-village’ programme started November 25 after the first Lt Governor of the newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, GC Murmu, said 5,000 officers will reach out to the people in each panchayat.
The first phase of the first-of-its-kind initiative to reach out to the people at the grassroots was held June 20 to 27 across 4,483 panchayats. The first phase drew good response from the public.
However, Tuesday’s incident in Anantnag may push the government to revisit the programme in Kashmir Valley, especially in the militancy-hit south Kashmir, the officials said.
The pressure on the state police was increasing as terrorists managed to sneak into Srinagar City, which witnessed an explosion in a market near Kashmir University in the Hazratbal area Tuesday evening. Three persons were injured in the explosion. All are stated to be stable, the officials said.