Terrorists shot dead a Kashmiri Pandit and injured his cousin on Tuesday at an apple orchard in south Kashmir's Shopian district, which had seen similar attacks on the minority community in April.
This casualty raised the number of targeted killings to 21 this year.
Tuesday's incident was a chilling reminder of the barbaric gunning down of a school principal Supinder Kaur last October.
According to police officials, two terrorists belonging to the banned Al Badar organisation, came to the orchard on Tuesday morning and lined up everyone.
After identification, they segregated Sunil Kumar Bhat and his cousin Pritmber Kumar Bhat and shot indiscriminately on them with their AK-47 rifles.
According to eyewitnesses and Pritmber Bhat's statement, while one terrorist was firing indiscriminately, the other was capturing the horrific incident on his smart phone.
Giving details, a police spokesman said around 11.30 AM, they received information about the incident.
Both the cousins were immediately shifted to a hospital where Sunil Kumar succumbed to injuries. The condition of Pritmber Bhat is stated to be stable.
Police has identified the assailant as Adil Wani, a categorised terrorist of Al Badar group, and a hunt has been launched to nab him.
Sunil Kumar, who leaves behind four daughters and his wife, was cremated in the evening amid slogans of 'Hindu Muslim Sikh Itehad (unity of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs)'.
Qatal-e-Gaarth na manzoor (killing of innocent and destruction are unacceptable) and chants of unity reverberated in the air as villagers of Chotigam took out a procession from the house of Bhat to the cremation ground.
Several people from the area joined the procession from Butt's residence where Muslim neighbours were seen consoling the family.
Terrorists had struck in the same village in April when they opened fire on Kashmiri Pandit chemist Balkrishen Bhat alias Sonu Kumar, who miraculously escaped death. He was injured and remained in hospital for a long period.
After the incident, the administration had assured that the presence of security forces where minorities were living would be increased.
There has been a sudden spike in attacks on minorities, labourers and police personnel in the valley since the beginning of this year. The death toll in targeted attacks has gone up to 21 this year which includes two Kashmiri Pandits.
An obscure Kashmir Freedom Fighter group claimed responsibility for the attack but security forces believe it to be an act by the terrorists of banned Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Heated arguments were witnessed outside the residence of the victim when officials from the administration visited the family.
The brother of Balkrishen Bhat confronted the officials and accused them of failing in their duties to ensure the safety of minorities.
"After my brother was shot, I personally met the Deputy Commissioner of Shopian and Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir for our safety. They told me nothing can be done and we should continue to stay where we live," Anil Bhat claimed.
An agitated Bhat held the administration responsible for the killing and alleged it has failed in its duty to safeguard people's safety.
There are only two or three Kashmiri Pandit families in Chotigam, nearly 10 km from the Shopian district headquarters and 70 km from Srinagar. The region is a hotbed of terrorism and is considered a stronghold of the terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
The incident shook the minority community, which was already reeling under fear following the killing of an employee Rahul Bhat in May.
A call for fresh exodus from the valley was issued by Kashmir Pandit Sangharash Samiti (KPSS), an organisation which has been taking up the cause with the government in the valley.
The increased terror attacks in the past week have left the security agencies worried as the terrorists have now again started targeting members of minority community, police personnel and outside labourers.
A policeman was killed in Nowhatta on Sunday and a migrant labourer was shot dead in Bandipora last week.
Two grenade attacks took place in Budgam -- in which a Kashmir Pandit civilian was injured -- and in the Police Control Room at Srinagar on Monday.
Following the back-to-back attacks, KPSS has asked the community members to leave the valley.
"With another deadly attack on Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir, the terrorists have made it clear that they are going to kill all the Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir valley," KPSS chief Sanjay Tickoo said.
He said he has urged all Kashmiri Pandits to leave the valley and move to safer places like Jammu and Delhi.
He claimed that the victims of Tuesday's attack had approached senior officials of the administration to move them to safer places in view of the intelligence inputs that suggested that terrorists might target more minority community members.
Tuesday's killings saw widespread condemnation from administration and political parties.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said he was 'pained beyond words on the despicable terror attack on civilians in Shopian. My thoughts are with the family of Sunil Kumar. Praying for a speedy recovery of the injured. The attack deserves the strongest condemnation from everyone. Terrorists responsible for the barbaric act will not be spared'.
Condemning the killing, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted, 'Terribly sad news from South Kashmir today. An accident and a militant attack have left a trail of death and suffering. I condemn the militant attack in Shopian unequivocally in which Sunil Kumar was killed and Pinto Kumar injured. My condolences to the family.'
People's Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said Jammu and Kashmir has become cannon fodder in 'Delhi's quest for manufactured normalcy'.
"Terribly sorry to hear about the targeted killing in Shopian. Condolences to the deceased's family. GOI continues to behave like an ostrich with its head buried deep under the sand. Every resident of J&K has become cannon fodder in Delhi's quest for 'manufactured normalcy'," she said.
Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman Altaf Thakur said, 'Strongly condemn the dastardly act of terror on innocent minority community members at Shopian in which Sunil Kumar was killed and another injured. Terror has no religion. Killers should be punished.'
People's Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone condemned the attack as a 'heinous act of violence' and expressed his condolences to the family of the victims.
Several groups staged protests against the killing and demanded adequate measures to ensure safety of the minority community members in the valley.
The protesters, who gathered at different places including Rani Park, Press Club and Panama chowk in the heart of Jammu, also raised slogans against Pakistan and the terrorists besides criticising the government for its alleged failure to stop targeted and selective killings.
A group of people also staged a protest at district headquarters in the border town of Poonch.
In January, one policeman was killed in a targeted attack in Anantnag. March saw the highest of seven such killings -- five civilians and an on-leave Central Reserve Police Force jawan in Shopian and a special police officer (SPO) in Budgam. The brother of the SPO also lost his life in the same attack.
In April, two civilians, including a sarpanch, were killed, while in May, five persons -- two cops and three civilians -- were killed.
The civilians were Rahul Bhat, a government employee recruited under the prime minister's special package for Kashmir Pandits, TV actor Amreen Bhat, and teacher Rajini Bhala.
In June, a non-local bank manager and a non-local labourer were shot dead by terrorists, while a sub-inspector of police was also killed.
Two non-local labourers have been killed so far in August.