A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader was shot dead by suspected militants on Wednesday evening in the Tral area of Pulwama district in Jammu and Kashmir. A woman also got injured in the brief firing, said police.
The deceased, Rakesh Pandita, was a municipal councillor and the BJP’s district unit secretary in Tral. He died on the spot. IG Kashmir Vijay Kumar said Pandita had gone meet his friend Mustaq Bhat in Tral. “The Incident happened at Mustaq’s residence in Tral. Three militants shot at Pandita. His friend’s daughter was also seriously wounded," Kumar said.
Pandita was living in a secured accommodation in Srinagar and had been provided with two public security officers (PSOs). However, the councillor was not accompanied by the officers during his visit to Tral. Searches have been mounted in the area and all entry and exit points have been sealed in Tral to nab the accused.
In a tweet, police said that despite being provided with two PSOs and a secured hotel accommodation in Srinagar, the councillor went to Tral on his own. “Area cordoned off and search is going on," the tweet said.
Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha said terrorists will never succeed in their nefarious designs, and those responsible for such heinous acts shall be brought to justice “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," he said.
Political leaders from across the spectrum condemned the attack and hit out at the gunmen. Expressing her shock, Peoples’ Democratic Party leader and former CM Mehbooba said these senseless acts of violence have brought only misery to Jammu & Kashmir. “My condolences to the family and may his soul rest in peace," she said.
People’s People’s Conference head Sajad Lone hit out at the assailants and asked them to leave from where they came from.
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.— Sajad Lone (@sajadlone) June 2, 2021
BJP’s J&K spokesperson said killing of Pandita was barbaric, adding that such attacks would not stop party leaders from serving the people. “Attacking unarmed people is no bravery and police must track down the culprits and punish them accordingly," he said.
Several BJP leaders in Jammu and Kashmir have been attacked by militants in recent months. At least eight leaders of the saffron party have been shot dead in the last one year.