A bank manager, Vijay Kumar, was shot dead by terrorists in the Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said on Thursday.

“Terrorists fired upon a bank manager of Ellaqie Dehati Bank at Areh Mohanpora in Kulgam district. He received grievous gunshot injuries in this terror incident. He was a resident of Hanumangarh, Rajasthan. Area cordoned off,” police said. He succumbed to his injuries, police added.

This was the eighth targeted killing in the Valley since May 1. On May 7, unarmed police constable Ghulam Hassan Dar was killed hours after being shot at in a suspected terror attack in Srinagar’s Zonimar area. On May 12, Rahul Bhat, a clerk, was shot dead inside the tehsildar’s office in Chadoora tehsil of Budgam district. On May 13, special police officer Riyaz Ahmad Thoker was shot dead in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. On May 24, terrorists killed policeman Saifullah Qadri in the Anchar Soura area of Srinagar and wounded his nine-year-old daughter. On May 25, TV artiste Amreen Bhat was shot and her 10-year-old nephew was injured outside her house in Chadoora area of Budgam district. On May 17, Ranjit Singh (52) from Rajouri was killed and three others injured after terrorists lobbed a hand grenade inside a newly opened wine shop in Baramulla. On May 31, Rajni Bala, a Hindu woman teacher from Jammu’s Samba district, was shot dead by terrorists at a government school in Gopalpora, Kulgam.

Meanwhile, people belonging to the Hindu community employed in Kashmir staged a protest in Jammu and demanded security for members of their community.

These deaths follow a series of killings that have been happening since August 5, 2019, the day when the Union government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and downgraded it to Union territory while simultaneously bifurcating the region into Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh UTs.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor

Manoj Sinha are likely to hold a high-level meeting here in the national capital on Friday over the killings of Kashmiri Pandits and minorities in the Union Territory in the last few days, official sources said.

It is learnt that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh will also participate in the meeting that is expected to start on the scheduled date in the first half of the day.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, as well as Director-General of Central Reserve Police Force Kuldeep Singh and Border Security Force chief Pankaj Singh, are also expected to attend the meeting.

The Srinagar Airport authorities on Thursday denied Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s claim of the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley.

The authority’s clarification came after Rahul Gandhi in a tweet claimed that many innocent people are being killed in Jammu and Kashmir and a fresh exodus of Kashmiri Pandits has started in the Valley. The airport authorities also urged not to spread such rumours.

“We strongly rebut this sensational rumour-mongering. We handle between 16 thousand to 18 thousand passengers everyday. Today also the number of passengers is average. There is no heavy rush of the minority community as rumoured by this tweet. Please do not spread rumours like this,” Srinagar Airport said in a tweet. The Congress leader also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take immediate steps to restore peace in the Union Territory.

Further attacking the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJ), the Congress MP said those who should be protecting the Kashmiri Pandits are busy promoting a film.

“Bank managers, teachers and many innocent people are getting killed everyday, Kashmiri Pandits are fleeing. Those who have to protect them, they have no time to promote the film. BJP has only made Kashmir its ladder of power. Take immediate steps to restore peace in Kashmir, Prime Minister,” he said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot condemned the killing of Hanumangarh resident Vijay Kumar. “The killing of Mr. Vijay Kumar, a resident of Hanumangarh, Rajasthan, working in Kulgam, Jammu and Kashmir, by terrorists is highly condemnable. I pray to God to give peace to his soul and courage to his family,” he tweeted.

Gehlot went ahead to criticize the NDA government for its ‘failure at restoring peace in Kashmir. “The NDA government has failed to restore peace in Kashmir. The central government should ensure the safety of citizens in Kashmir. Such killing of our citizens by terrorists will not be tolerated,” said Gehlot on Twitter.