The chief of the prison service in India-occupied Kashmir has been murdered, police said on Tuesday, as the powerful interior minister visited the disputed Himalayan region.

The body of Hemant Kumar Lohia, 57, the region’s director general of prisons, was found at his home on Monday night in the Jammu region, police said.

Police said a household helper was the main suspect but the People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF), a group that emerged after India reorganised the disputed territory into two federally administered territories in 2019, said it had targeted and killed Lohia.

“This is just a beginning of such high-profile operations,” the PAFF said in a statement on social media, adding that the killing was a “small gift” to Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, who arrived in occupied Kashmir on Monday on a three-day visit.

The authenticity of the PAFF statement could not be immediately verified.

Senior police officer Mukesh Singh said Lohia’s throat had been cut and his body bore burns. The initial investigation suggested it was not a “terror act” but police were investigating, he said.

Meanwhile, Delhi-based NDTV reported that police had taken Lohia’s household helper into custody.

Police have blamed groups like the PAFF for targeted killing but fighters have not killed any security official of Lohia’s seniority in recent years.

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