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Inspired by Vajpayee, This Assassinated BJP Leader in Kashmir Had Prefixed ‘Atal’ to His Name

On Sunday evening, suspected militants fired at Gul Mohammad Mir in his house. He was hit by bullets in abdomen and chest and succumbed to his injuries while being taken to the hospital.

Aakash Hassan | News18.com@Aakashhassan

Updated:May 6, 2019, 1:12 AM IST
Inspired by Vajpayee, This Assassinated BJP Leader in Kashmir Had Prefixed ‘Atal’ to His Name
File photo of BJP leader Gul Mohammad Mir who was killed by militants on Saturday.

Srinagar: Gul Mohammad Mir had recently joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when the former prime minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, made a famous public speech in Srinagar.

Vajpayee had extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan and offered dialogue with the Valley’s separatists.

It was the spring of 2013 and Vajpayee said, “We are again extending the hand of friendship, but hands should be extended by both sides.”

Days later, he said in Parliament, “Issues can be resolved if we move forward guided by the three principles, insaniyat (humanity), Kashmiriyat (spirit of Kashmir) and jamooriyat (democracy).’

Vajpayee won hearts with his speech and willingness to solve the Kashmir dispute.

As Mir went back to his home, in the Nowgam area of Verinag, the town named after the famous spring from which the Jhelum river originates, and decided that he would prefix Atal to his name.

“We were surprised by his announcement,” said Sofi Yousuf, a senior BJP leader from Kashmir, who has been working with Mir since 2003. But Mir was serious about it.

“He used to rebuke us when we would omit Atal from his name,” said Yousuf. “It was Vajpayeeji’s that speech that changed his life. He told me once that only Vajpayee can bring peace to Kashmir.”

On Sunday evening, suspected militants fired at Mir in his house. He was hit by bullets in abdomen and chest and succumbed to his injuries while being taken to the hospital.

The assassination of the 62-year-old vice-president of the BJP in Anantnag district has shocked the party leadership.

Condemning the murder, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said there was no place for violence in the country.

A few days ago, Mir had made a speech in a BJP rally in poll-bound south Kashmir. “I know there are people who don’t want peace here. But I have no fear,” the man with a white-beard had said. “In our party, everybody is equal. There is no family rule. We believe in development,” Mir had told the gathering.

He was a proud worker of the BJP, though the party had a minimal presence in the Valley.

He had also contested elections from the Dooru assembly segment in 2008 and 2014. Mir had also contested panchayat election, last year, and became the sarpanch of his village. His dedication to the party was exceptional.

“Despite being aware of the threats to his life, he had the BJP flag flying atop his house,” said another BJP worker, wishing not to be named.

In 2018, Mir talked to News18 about he was impressed by Vajpayee. “Since the day I heard his speech, my opinion about the BJP had changed,” he had said.

“The problem in other parties is that they lie. They will tell you here that we will solve Kashmir’s dispute in one month, but actually they are deceiving. BJP has a clear policy. BJP means what it says,” Mir had said.

Recently, Mir’s security was withdrawn. BJP leaders say Governor Satya Pal Malik’s administration is putting the life of their activists at risk.

“When his security was withdrawn we requested police to revoke the order and provide him security,” said Yousuf. “Our workers are trying to serve the country, but the callous approach of the administration is giving anti-national elements a chance to pounce on them.”

This is not the first time when political workers have been killed in Kashmir.

In August 2018, Shabir Ahmad Bhat, BJP’s Pulwama unit president, was killed when he came home on the day of Eid-ul-Adha.

Before that, in November 2017, Gowhar Hussain Bhat, the 30-year-old BJP youth president of the adjoining district of Shopian, was kidnapped from his home by militants one evening.

Later, his body was found in an orchard a kilometre away from his house with his throats slit.

The BJP’s state leadership says that “some people” are perturbed by the “performance of the BJP” in Kashmir. “We are doing extremely well in the election and that is why these killings are taking place,” said Sofi Yousuf, without clarifying who he is targeting.

BJP’s state spokesperson Altaf Thakur, while denouncing the killings, called it an “an act of cowardice.” “BJP activists are committed. We have faced such attacks in the past as well, but our party is emerging stronger,” said Sofi Yousuf.

The saffron leadership might be strong in the Valley, but it has lost “Kashmir’s Atal”, the “void can hardly be filled by someone else”, a party functionary said.

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| Edited by: Sohini Goswami
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