A municipal councillor of the BJP, Rakesh Pandita, was shot by militants in the Tral belt of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on 2 May evening. Pandit succumbed to injuries in the hospital. The leader was visiting his friend at Tral Payeen.
A woman, who is the daughter of his friend with whom Rakesh Pandita had gone to Tral, received bullet injuries on her leg. The woman, however, was moved to Pulwama hospital for treatment. For now, the area has been cordoned off to nab the attackers.
The BJP leader was not accompanied by his personal security guards during his visit to the area. Police and security forces have started a massive search operation to nab the assailants.
The attack was condemned by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and leaders cutting across party lines, including Mehbooba Mufti and Sajad Lone.
In a statement, Jammu and Kashmir Police said the deceased was a protected person, and two PSOs were deployed for his security. He was also given secured accommodation in Srinagar. However, at the time of the incident, he was without any security as he defied the SOPs and went to his native village without PSOs.
Cops have registered a case under relevant sections of law and an investigation is in progress. The area has been cordoned off and a search is on to nab the terrorists involved in the attack.
Jammu and Kashmir L-G Manoj Sinha said, “Saddened to hear about the terror attack on the Councillor Shri Rakesh Pandita at Tral, Pulwama. I strongly condemn the attack. My condolences to the bereaved family in this time of grief. Terrorists will never succeed in their nefarious designs, and those responsible for such heinous acts shall be brought to justice.”
Five BJP leaders were killed last year in a spate of targeted killings. After this, there was a review of the security arrangement and most politicians of the party were provided with secured accommodation in Srinagar, the summer capital of the union territory.
“Shocked to hear that BJP leader Rakesh Pandit has been shot dead by militants. These senseless acts of violence have brought only misery to J&K. My condolences to the family and may his soul rest in peace,” she said in a tweet.
General Secretary (Organisation) of the Jammu and Kashmir unit of BJP Ashok Koul condemned the killing of the party’s councillor and termed it “barbaric”. He said the attack was a cowardly act by the militants and such acts will not bring down the morale of the BJP leadership on the ground.
“Those who are responsible for this will not be spared. The militants are targeting party workers and innocent civilians but they did not know that every person is ready to give sacrifice for this country,” he said.
Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone in a tweet said the gun was a curse and the people of Kashmir had seen enough.
“Yet again gunmen attack a non-combatant. This gun is a curse. Just ponder. Since the day this menace came into Kashmir. What have we seen? In a nut shell total disempowerment of the Kashmiri. Dear gunmen. Can u please go back where u came from. We have had enough,” he said.
The National Conference condemned the killing of the BJP leader.