A jeweller in Srinagar was shot dead allegedly by militants in a busy market area on Friday, the Jammu and Kashmir Police said.
Reports suggested that the goldsmith was killed because he obtained a certificate under the new domicile law, which allows people who have lived in Jammu and Kashmir for more than 15 years rights to purchase immovable property.
Police said that unidentified gunmen fired upon Satpal Nischal, owner of Nischal Jewelers in Saraibala area of Srinagar at 6.30 pm. Nischal was critically wounded, and was taken to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Militant outfit Resistance Front claimed responsibility for the attack, saying all “outsiders” who received domicile certificates were agents of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological mentor of the Bharatiya Janata Party, reported The Indian Express.
In a statement, the outfit said that Nischal “was part of a settler project”, and that anyone who obtains domicile “will be treated as occupiers,” reported NDTV.
“The Resistance Front had already warned that any Indian national irrespective of faith, caste or colour, who comes to Kashmir with the intention of settling here, will be treated as an agent of the RSS and not as a civilian,” it said. “We know your names, we know where you live and we know what you do and we are coming for you.”
A case was registered under relevant sections and further investigation was under way to establish the full circumstances of the crime. In the meantime, the market area was cordoned off and a search operation was launched, the police said in a statement.
“We are working on both aspects...business rivalry and the terrorist claim,” Inspector General Vijay Kumar told The Indian Express. “We will share the details soon.”
An unidentified senior official told NDTV that the police have picked “a few people”. “One of the attackers can be seen in CCTV footage as well,” he added. “We are hopeful that we will be able to track him down.”
On March 31, the Centre introduced new domicile laws that expanded who can live permanently in Jammu and Kashmir. The new rules replace “permanent residents” of the former state with “domiciles” of the new Union Territory. The administration began to issue certificates in June.
The new laws allow Indian citizens who have lived in Jammu and Kashmir for 15 years, as well as those who have studied there for seven years, to claim a “domicile certificate” for residency benefits. Children of central government officials who worked in Jammu and Kashmir for at least 10 years can also apply.
The changes to domicile rules were made after on August 5, 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre removed Article 35A, stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status under Article 370, and split it into two Union Territories. Article 35A had given the government of the former state powers to define who the “permanent residents” of Jammu and Kashmir were, and to reserve certain rights for them.