Patel had been a political butterfly of sorts, hopping from one party to another. He had stints with the Congress and People's Democratic Party. His family said he had been with the PDP for the last four years.
But within minutes of his killing, both PDP and Congress disowned him and even traded charges that he belonged to the other. Jammu and Kashmir chief minister went on twitter first to convey her condemnation but wrote Patel was a “Congress” leader.
Heartfelt condolences to the family of senior Congress leader, G. N. Patel who was killed by militants today in Rajpora. Such cowardly acts achieve nothing but leave one more family devastated.— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) April 25, 2018
Haseeb Drabu, who was recently shunted out from his position of finance minister and is legislator from Rajpora, played it safe by not commenting on his linkage with PDP. “Gh Nabi Patel, senior citizen and seasoned political worker associated for 40 years with mainstream parties shot dead. Mindless. Painful. RIP!” he tweeted.
In response to Mehbooba, state Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir, issued a statement in local press, saying that Patel was earlier associated with the Congress but shifted to PDP in presence of Mehbooba Mufti and Haseeb Drabu a few years ago. “He contested for Congress in 2002 unsuccessfully from Rajpora and in 2008 for a new party. Later he switched to PDP,” Mir was quoted as saying.
Former chief minister and opposition leader Omar Abdullah castigated both the parties and said that it was tragic that “Patel sahib” was disowned by both parties. “If neither party is willing to own him as one of their own let is just call him a NC worker so his life is not in vain,” he said.
How tragic that Patel Sahib, a political worker assassinated by militants in Kashmir is being disowned by both the PDP & Congress. If neither party is willing to own him as one of their own let’s just call him a NC worker so his death is not in vain.— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) April 25, 2018
Ghulam Nabi Patel is being denied the dignity of having been assassinated for belonging to a political party just so the PDP & Congress can lie to their workers to claim they aren’t at risk from militant bullets.— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) April 25, 2018
Patel was shot this afternoon when he was coming from his village Yader Shadimarg in his Scorpio. He was travelling with his driver and two security officers, who were apparently unarmed. The SUV was stopped by three terrorist wearing a Pheran (a long cloak) near Rajpora, barely a few kilometres from his residence, and they fired indiscriminately.
While Patel was shot on his face, the police officers got injured in the attack. One of them is stated to be critical and is being treated in a hospital.
Patel's body lay on the front seat of the car, his head tilted towards the window. He had died on the spot. A few bullet casings were found on the road. Police said that Hizbul Mujahideen was behind the attack and its commander Sameer Tiger was the mastermind. The identity of the other two is still being ascertained.
The daring attack has once again raised questions about the security of politicians functioning from South Kashmir. Only last year, Abdul Gani Dar, a PDP district president, was killed in similar fashion in Pinglena village of Pulwama district.
Sartaj Ahmad, Patel's son, told News 18 that Patel had come to the village after five months to see how his family was preparing for his daughter marriage scheduled next month. He said Patel rarely visited his home due to security concerns and stayed in a highly secured accommodation in Pulwama town.
Sartaj said his father was working with PDP since last four years and even former chief minister and Mehbooba's father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed knew him by name. He said that his father had been instrumental in getting people to vote and this put his life at risk.
“My father ensured villagers come out to vote for PDP's Haseeb Drabu despite the risk involved. At that time, even the party acknowledged his good work,” he said.
“A dead man is of no use. Let them disown him now. But he was the one who would go door to door exposing his life to ensure PDP's win,” he cried.
Gowhar Geelani, a Srinagar based political commentator responded on the twitter: “A life lost to bullets... when alive, exploited by politicians. Once dead, the body disowned. This is how ugly and dirty a particular brand of politics is in Kashmir. Use them when alive and disown them once dead. Yes, how do you sleep at night."