In a shocking development, a BJP leader in Kashmir was shot dead by militants on Wednesday evening. The assailants had wounded his associate and the attack has drawn massive condemnation from the political leaders in the former semi-autonomous state and across the country.
According to reports, BJP leader Rakesh Pandit was killed by the militants in the Tral area of Pulwama district, around 34 km south of Srinagar. Pandit was at his friend's home when three terrorists barged in and opened fire around 10.15 pm on Wednesday. Pandit was BJP's Councillor and the police said he was shot dead by the militants in the area when he was without his two security guards.
The security guards are provided to Pandit for his security purposes and despite having the guards and secured hotel accommodation in Srinagar, the councillor went to Tral without his guards. Police said that Pandit was shot at the house of the neighbour Mushtaq Ahmad and Asifa Mushtaq, the daughter of Mushtaq Ahmad, had also sustained injuries during the attack.
The reports say that Pandit had won the Urban Local Bodies election in 2018 and the local people had mentioned Pandit as a person known for his joviality. Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti had strongly condemned the attack. She said, "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."
Peoples Conference leader Sajad Lone tweeted, "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 nutshell total disempowerment of the Kashmiri. Dear Gunmen, Can u please go back to where you came from? We have had enough." The reports say that this is the second such attack on the BJP local leader in the valley this year.
On March 29, militants attacked Municipal Office Sopore and killed two municipal councillors of the BJP and a police constable. In October last year, the militants killed three BJP workers and in August 2020, BJP worker Abdul Hamid Najar was killed by militants in Budgam and in July last year, BJP leader Sheikh Waseem Bari, his father, Bashir Ahmad, his brother Umer Sultan were killed outside their residence in Bandipora, North Kashmir.