Political workers fleeing south Kashmir fearing threats

Feeling threatened by the killing of Bhat, political activists, especially from rightwing BJP, started fleeing from twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian

Kashmiri protestors clash with Indian government forces after Eid prayers in downtown Srinagar on August 22, 2018. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP)

The killing of a BJP activist in volatile Pulwama district on Wednesday has sent shock waves among workers of mainstream political parties in south Kashmir forcing many of them to move temporarily to Srinagar while some have reportedly offered resignations.

Militants shot dead Shabir Ahmad Bhat, a BJP worker, on the day of Eid, after abducting him from his residence at Rakh-e-litter in Pulwama. He is the first political activist killed by militants after the government announced municipal and panchayat polls in the state last week.

Feeling threatened by the killing of Bhat, political activists, especially from rightwing BJP, started fleeing from twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian and take refuge in Srinagar. The common demand for workers heading to Srinagar from south Kashmir is to get accommodation in the city. 

“In the last two years, several political activists have been killed by militants, especially in south Kashmir. After every killing, the government assures that we will be provided security and accommodation in safer places. But after few days, the promise is forgotten,” rued a senior BJP worker from Pulwama.

He said that militants repeatedly come to the houses of BJP workers in southern Kashmir. “Local militants know everything about us and we can’t lie or presume they are ignorant,” he added.

With a number of locals joining militant ranks, south Kashmir is seeing a steep rise in militancy in the recent years and as a result, the political activists participating in political activities at the ground level are feeling insecure.For the last three days, several videos have gone viral on social media in which some political workers have offered to resign and apologise for their association with mainstream political parties.

A worker of Congress party, who left his home immediately after the killing of Bhat on Eid day said everyone feels threatened. “We have to take all possible measures to ensure our safety and security. Migration is one of the measures and even if you resign nobody will believe you for some time,” he said.

With urban local bodies and panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir likely to be held from next month, there is fear of more killings of political activists by the militant in the Valley in coming days. Police candidly in admits that there was a threat to the contesting candidates and they were not in a position to provide security to each of them. 

“Thousands of candidates will contest these polls and it is not possible for the police to provide security to each of them,” a senior police officer posted in south Kashmir told DH.

BJP national vice-president and Incharge J&K Avinash Rai Khanna, says the militant attacks are meant to lower the morale of the BJP leaders and workers. “But these types of attacks can’t stop the BJP workers from discharging their duties. The acceptance and growth of BJP in Kashmir has given sleepless nights to the anti-nationalists,” he said.

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Political workers fleeing south Kashmir fearing threats

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