Unidentified gunmen killed a sarpanch and a horticulture department officer during a “back-to-village” programme in south Kashmir”s Anantnag on Tuesday, an incident which may deal a blow to the government”s much-acclaimed public outreach initiative in some militancy-hit areas.
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 injuring and were rushed to the district hospital, they said.
Shah and Sheikh died at the hospital.
Parray was rushed to a hospital in Srinagar and his condition was stated to be critical, the officials said.
Other government officials, including Joint Director (Education) Bilal Khursheed, were taken away from the venue.
The second phase of “back-to-village” programme started from November 25 after the first Lt Governor of the the newly created union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, G C 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 from 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.