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Toy seller killed, 41 hurt in grenade attack at crowded Srinagar market

Author: M Saleem Pandit
Publication: The Times of India
Date: November 5, 2019
URL:      https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/toy-seller-killed-41-hurt-in-grenade-attack-at-crowded-srinagar-market/articleshow/71911345.cms

Terrorists hurled a grenade at a throng of shoppers in Srinagar's main marketplace on Monday afternoon, killing a toy seller from UP and leaving 41 others, including three security personnel, injured. The attack on the milling crowd at Gonikhan Market was the second one in three weeks in the vicinity of Hari Singh High Street, where shops had only recently returned to normal working hours after more than two months of adhering to a curtailed schedule dictated by terrorist groups.

The street vendor killed in the latest terror attack was identified as 35-year-old Rinku Singh from UP's Saharanpur district. The condition of two injured shoppers — Fayaz Ahmad of Hazratbal and Ajaz Bhat of Channapora — and an unidentified person was stated to be critical.

Police said the attack was carried out by "a Pakistan-backed terror group", possibly in retaliation for the defiance shown by traders and shoppers after the previous grenade attack there on October 12, when seven people had been injured.

Till mid-October, most shops along Hari Singh High Street and elsewhere in Srinagar had followed the timings fixed by terrorist groups — 7am-10am and 6pm-9pm. Since October 15, shops have been open till 1 in the afternoon and almost 10 at night. The footfall at marketplaces had also increased over the past two weeks, barring a two-day lull when J&K transitioned from a state to a Union territory last Friday.

Immediately after Monday's attack, a large police and CRPF contingent cordoned off Hari Singh High Street and launched a manhunt for the terrorists. “The market was buzzing this afternoon when there was a big bang," an eyewitness said. “Merchandise lay scattered all over the place as shoppers and shopkeepers ran helter-skelter, jumping over people sprawled on the ground with blood oozing out of their wounds."

While toy seller Rinku died instantly, the injured were taken to the nearby Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital. In a tweet through its official handle, J&K police said three Sashastra Seema Bal personnel suffered splinter injuries.

On October 5, 13 people had been injured in a grenade attack at Anantnag. Six CRPF personnel suffered injuries when a grenade was thrown at them outside SMHS Hospital on October 26. On October 28, terrorists struck in similar fashion near a bus terminus in Sopore, leaving 19 people injured.

Monday's grenade attack was overall the sixth in the Valley since August 5, when the Centre nullified Articles 370 and 35A, under which J&K had enjoyed special status.

In an unrelated incident during the day, a tourist from Gujarat was injured in stone-pelting by unidentified youths at HMT on the outskirts of Srinagar. SSP Haseeb Mughal said a group of tourists was coming from Gulmarg to Srinagar in a vehicle when a "stray stone" hit one of them.
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