A 29-year-old bank manager hailing from Rajasthan was shot dead by a terrorist of the banned Lashkar-e-Tayiba inside his office premises in South Kashmir's Kulgam district on Thursday, making it the eighth targeted killing in the Valley since May 1 and the third of a non-Muslim government employee.
Vijay Kumar, posted with the Ellaqui Dehati Bank, sponsored by State Bank of India, at its Arreh Mohanpora branch in Kulgam district, received grievous gunshot injuries and died on his way to hospital, officials said.
The CCTV footage showed the killer entering the premises first probably to verify whether the victim had come to the office, and within seconds returns with a pistol and fires at Kumar.
While one bullet hit the wall, the second hit Kumar leaving him seriously injured, the officials said, adding that he succumbed to injuries on way to a hospital.
Kumar, who joined EDB in March 2019, had got married in February this year and was supposed to come back to Bhagwan in Hanumangarh of Rajasthan, his native village, for 10-15 days next month. But destiny willed otherwise, said his father Om Prakash Beniwal on Thursday after the news about his son reached him.
"He had called recently and promised to come home for 10-15 days in July. We wanted him to settle down in Rajasthan but destiny was something else," said Beniwal, who is a government schoolteacher.
The family was in a deep shock as preparations for last rites were being made. Kumar's mortal remains will reach his native place on Friday.
The Resistance Front, a shadow outfit of banned Lashkar-e-Tayiba terror group, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
During the day, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, along with RAW chief Samant Goel, met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and are believed to have discussed the security situation in the Union territory.
Details of their meeting were not known immediately but they were believed to have discussed the situation in restive Kashmir. The home minister will be chairing a high-level meeting on Friday to discuss the situation.
The latest killing led to a chorus of condemnation from political parties across the spectrum, including the National Conference and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Kumar had joined the Kulgam branch only a week ago. He had earlier been working in the Kokernag branch of the bank, co-owned by the central government, the Jammu and Kashmir administration and the State Bank of India.
The SBI issued a statement saying the bank remains committed to ensure the safety and well-being of all its employees, including those posted in the Valley.
The EDB shall ensure that the bereaved family is provided with necessary support -- financial and otherwise -- on priority, it said.
Condemning the act, All India Bank Employees' Association general secretary C H Venkatachalam said it is a matter of serious concern to all in the banking sector.
"Every now and then we get such disturbing news from one state or the other. Lot of very qualified youngsters are joining the banks for their career and better prospects. It is a pity that such incidents do happen periodically with no solution about the security of bank staff," he said.
Canara Bank Officers' Association general secretary Ravi Kumar, while condemning the incident, demanded strict action against those behind this killing.
The fresh killing comes barely two days after a Hindu woman teacher, Rajni Bala, hailing from Jammu's Samba district, was shot dead by terrorists at a government school in Gopalpora, Kulgam.
The spate of targeted killings started in May this year which included that of Rahul Bhat, a clerk, who was shot dead inside the tehsildar's office in Chadoora tehsil of Budgam district.
Of the eight targeted killings in Kashmir since May 1, three victims were off-duty policemen and five were civilians.
"So very sorry to hear about the targeted killing of Vijay Kumar. Tweeting to condemn an attack and condole a death are becoming a mind-numbingly regular thing. It's heartbreaking to see families destroyed like this," NC vice- president Omar Abdullah said in a tweet.
Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari said that it was painful to witness targeted killings of civilians in Kashmir.
"These dastardly acts of violence have devastated families... It's shocking. Will words of condemnation be ever enough?” he wrote on Twitter.
Peoples Conference chairman Sajjad Lone termed the killing a heinous act and said he was at a loss of words to express his condemnation for such a heinous act.
"Yet again extremely sad news coming in. An innocent civilian working as a manager in a bank in Kulgam has been shot dead," he said on Twitter.
In Jammu, the J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina said the recent targeted killings in the Valley is a conspiracy by Pakistan to create fear and sabotage the Centre's efforts to restore peace and normalcy in the Union Territory.