BJP Leader Shot Dead In South Kashmir

Rakesh Pandita (L) with BJP J&K chief Ravinder Raina | File photo

Stand-Off Between Surrendered Militant, Forces In SOG Camp

Srinagar: Suspected militants on Wednesday shot dead a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in Tral town of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Suspected militants appeared in Tral Payeen area on Saturday evening and randomly opened fire at  BJP councillor Rakesh Pandita leaving him critically injured, reports said. In the surprise attack, a woman identified as Asifa Mushtaq was also injured. Both of them were rushed to the nearby hospital where Pandita was declared brought dead.

According to reports, the woman has been referred to Srinagar’s SMHS hospital for advanced treatment of gunshot wounds.

“Militants shot dead one councillor namely Rakesh Pandita in Tral. Despite provided 02 PSOs & secured hotel accommodation in Srinagar, the said councillor went to Tral without PSOs. Area cordoned off & search is going on,” police said in a post on its official Twitter handle.

Pandita, as per party spokesperson was a councillor from Tral Bala-C and was visiting his friend at Tral Payeen where suspected militants fired upon him.

“He was party’s district secretary for Pulwama. He was staying with his friend and a neighbour where he was shot dead by militants,” BJP spokesperson Altaf Thakur told Kashmir Observer.

He further said that these “barbaric” attacks won't stop BJP leaders from serving the people.

“Attacking unarmed people is no bravery and that police must track down the culprits and punish them accordingly,” he said.

J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha also condemned the killing of BJP leader and expressed condolences with the bereaved family

“Saddened to hear about the terror attack on the Councillor Shri Rakesh Pandita at Tral, Pulwama. I strongly condemn the attack. My condolences to bereaved family in this time of grief,” the office of LG Tweeted.

 “Militants will never succeed in their nefarious designs, and those responsible for such heinous acts shall be brought to justice,” reads another Tweet.

Meanwhile, a gun-battle broke out between a surrendered militant and police inside a camp in Pulwama district after the militant snatched a rifle from a policeman and opened fire at him, PTI reported.

Quoting officials, the report said that the militant, identified as Mohammad Amin Malik, allegedly snatched the rifle of constable Amjid Khan and opened fire at him inside the camp of special operations group (SOG) in the Tral area of the south Kashmir district.

The militant then hid himself inside the camp along with the snatched rifle, the officials said. The officials said Khan was evacuated in an injured condition to a hospital in Srinagar.

State forces tried to persuade the militant to surrender and even called his parents to make him lay down the arms, the officials said, adding that Khan however refused the offer and started firing towards the positions of the government forces, who retaliated.

Earlier, Malik, a resident of Nagbal in the Tral area, had surrendered before security forces on May 30 along with a 12 bore rifle, the officials said.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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