SHOPIAN: An apple trader from Punjab and a brick kiln worker from Chhattisgarh were shot dead in separate attacks by terrorists in J&K on Wednesday, taking the number of civilian killings to three in as many days and sending a frisson of alarm that resulted in a procession of outstation trucks fleeing the Valley without picking up their fruit consignments.
The latest victims in the resurgence of terror attacks since Monday were Punjab-based Charanjeet Singh, who was killed during a business trip to Trenz in Shopian district, and Sethi Kumar Sagar, a resident of Besoli in Chhattisgarh employed in a brick kiln in Pulwama. Sanjeev Singh, who was accompanying Charanjeet, was critically injured in the attack.
DGP Dilbagh Singh said the brick kiln worker from Chhattisgarh slain in the day’s first attack was walking down a road with another civilian when two terrorists singled him out and sprayed bullets that killed him instantly. The attack took place near Kakapora railway station in Pulwama. On Monday, a truck driver from Rajasthan had been killed by terrorists at Shirmal village of Shopian district.
The attackers, one of them suspected to be from Pakistan, also set the vehicle ablaze. Fruit growers in south Kashmir said the back-to-back killings within 72 hours had scared away drivers of trucks that were to carry fruit from their orchards to various parts of the country. Anand Kumar, a truck driver from Kota in Rajasthan, was among the truckers on their way out of the Valley even before news of the third killing came in. “I am leaving Kashmir right now. No job is more important than one’s life,” he told TOI in Shopian.
Another driver said he arrived in south Kashmir last week to carry a truckload of fruit to other parts of the country, but was now in two minds about whether to stay even a day longer. “We have families back home who are very concerned. If my truck is not loaded by tonight, I won’t prolong my stay,” he said.
Khurshid Ahmad, a fruit grower from Shopian, said it was clear that terror outfits had decided to prevent any semblance of normalcy returning to the Valley. “We are being prevented from transporting our produce across India as if we are doing something illegal. I had received an advance for my produce before August 5, and just when I was preparing to send the consignment, this happens,” he added.
At least 15 people have been detained for questioning in connection with the attack in which truck driver Sharief Khan was killed two days ago. A police officer in south Kashmir said the two killings since Monday were part of a strategy by terrorists to strike at the heart of business since many traders had refused to be cowed down.

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