A 65-year-old jeweller, who was shot dead by terrorists on Thursday at a busy market in Srinagar, was killed because he had last month acquired a domicile certificate, which had given him the right to own land and property in Jammu and Kashmir, police sources said on Friday.
Satpal Nischal, the victim, had been living in the Jammu and Kashmir capital for over 50 years. He was shot dead at a shop.
The Resistance Front, a terrorist outfit, has claimed the responsibility for the killing. After the murder, the terrorist group warned in a statement that “the jeweller was part of a settler project and anyone who obtains domicile will be treated as occupiers”.
The centre last year notified a new land law which allowed residents of any state to buy immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir. The centre’s move in August 2019, scrapping the state’s special powers under the Article 370 of the Constitution and its bifurcation into two Union Territories, paved the way for the change.
So far, over 10 lakh domicile certificates have been issued in Kashmir valley, most of them to local residents. The government has not released separate data on how many non-locals have acquired the domicile certificate in Kashmir.
The Nischal family is originally from Punjab’s Gurdaspur but they have been living in Srinagar for several decades. Many members of the family are in the business of gold jewellery. They remained in the city even when the outbreak of terrorism in the valley had triggered mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits.
Mr Nischal’s neighbours say that he was like their brother, not an outsider.
“We never felt that he was an outsider. He was like any other Kashmiri brother. He was very affectionate whenever we visited him. This is the reason everyone here is mourning him,” Shabir Ahmad, his neighbour, said.
The police have said they are investigating the case and analysing the threat perception to other domicile holders.
“We have picked up a few people. One of the attackers can be seen in CCTV footage as well. We are hopeful that we will be able to track him down,” a senior officer said.