Crescent Kashmir

BJP wants police to create ‘security model’ for its J&K leaders following spate of killings

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Srinagar: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Kashmir unit has urged the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Police to work out a “security model” for its leaders based in the Union Territory after five of its members were gunned down by militants over the last month, its leaders told ThePrint.

The unit has also asked party workers not to venture out without security clearance, the leaders said.

The comments came as the party, in a statement Monday, said the targeting of BJP leaders was part of a “sinister design”, hinting that it might not be just Pakistan-backed militants trying to scuttle the revival of the political process in J&K but also local elements.

According to police sources, the shooting of a BJP leader in Budgam area Sunday has led to dozens of party workers being shifted to different locations across the Valley. In the last month, over 400 BJP workers have been shifted into various hotels and government facilities in the wake of growing militant threats.

Demand for safe accommodation

BJP Kashmir spokesperson Altaf Thakur urged the police top brass to work out a “security model” for BJP leaders, workers and activists across Kashmir, on the lines suggested by the top party leaders.

According to him, one building should be kept for party leaders and the workers in each district headquarters, where all security arrangements should be in place.

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“The safe accommodation at district headquarters should have accommodation for at least 50 to 60 people. They should be provided with food and other basic facilities there as well,” Thakur said.

The demand followed the killing of Budgam resident and BJP’s OBC morcha in-charge Abdul Hamid Najar. He was murdered just a month after BJP leader Wasim Bari was shot dead along with his brother and father, both of whom were also local BJP leaders, outside their residence in north Kashmir’s Bandipora area.

Prior to Bari’s killing, Congress Sarpanch Ajay Pandita was shot dead in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

Fear in local BJP leaders

BJP leaders told ThePrint that besides the killing of its five members, two others were shot at in the last month and are currently battling for their lives.

“Since 2012 we have at least lost a dozen of our workers,” said Thakur.

The killings have also triggered a spate of resignations.

According to sources in the BJP, at least 17 local leaders have resigned and even posted their dissociation from the BJP on social media websites. Of these, at least eight have quit over the last 24 hours due to the killing in Budgam, said the sources.

But Thakur said those resigning were not truly committed to party principles.

The party statement Monday said the continued “targeted killing” of BJP workers is worrying and appears to be a part of a “sinister design” to scuttle the revival of political process in the Valley.

“Unfortunately, only the BJP workers were daring to reach out to the people in their constituencies because they felt obliged to serve those who have elected them. All those with status quo mindset, including Pakistan, are against the revival of political process,” the statement read.

“Is it only Pak sponsored terrorists or some more who may be interested in neutralising the challenge posed by BJP? Request the L-G admin for a thorough investigation,” it added.

What the police says

Meanwhile, a J&K Police source said at least 25 political workers, including those from non-BJP parties, were given security since the killing of Bari.

However, a sarpanch affiliated with the BJP said on condition of anonymity, “The security is not enough. We are dying out here. We are forced to lie to our people and tell them we are not with the party anymore but with NC and PDP.”

A senior police officer posted in south Kashmir also expressed concern over the recruitment of militants in the Valley.

“The over(all) recruitment has dropped but if you see in south Kashmir, particularly in Kulgam and Shopian, recruitment is higher than last year. Then there is also the threat of Pakistani militants. This year fewer foreign militants were killed in encounters despite reports of heavy infiltration from LOC,” the officer said.

The police in south Kashmir has been looking for an Army soldier, who went missing from his home in Shopian more than a week ago.

In an audio allegedly released by militants on social media late Sunday, someone claimed that the soldier, Shakir Manzoor, had been abducted and killed.

“We can understand the pain of his parents and other family members but because of the coronavirus, we couldn’t hand over his body to the family so that a crowd doesn’t assemble at his funeral,” said a man who identified himself as Abu Talha in the audio file.

The comment seemed to be in response to the police force’s move since March to stop handing over bodies of local slain militants to their families, stating that in doing so, huge crowds would end up attending the funerals of the insurgents, as has been the case for past several years.

“We are ascertaining the authenticity of the audio but the search for the soldier is underway,” said the police source quoted above.

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