40 activists killed in J&K after Article 370 abrogation

40 political activists killed in Kashmir after abrogation of Article 370

Kashmir reportedly has at least 7.5 lakh BJP workers on the ground and all of them do not have security

Representative Image. Credit: PTI File Photo

At least 40 political activists, including panchayat members and grassroots workers, have been killed by militants in Kashmir since the abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370 in August 2019.

Nearly half of them (19) belonged to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In the latest incident, Lashkar-e-Taiba militants shot dead a BJP sarpanch and his panchayat member wife in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Monday evening.

Soon after the fall of PDP-BJP government in June 2018, the panchayat and municipal elections were held in Jammu and Kashmir in November. After the elections, most candidates were given accommodation in heavily secured hotels in Srinagar, far from their villages and wards. Many still remain there.

As the two main regional parties -- National Conference and the PDP -- boycotted these polls, it gave the BJP a chance to control at least four of the 20 civic bodies in the four militancy-hit districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian in south Kashmir. But this did not stop the attacks on BJP workers.

Kashmir reportedly has at least 7.5 lakh BJP workers on the ground and all of them do not have security. But it is not only the BJP workers, who have been targeted by the militants from south to north Kashmir. Militants have also targeted elected panchs and sarpanchs belonging to other political parties.

When the militancy erupted in Kashmir in 1989, militants targeted political workers in a similar manner to derail the political system. The first political killing was that of the NC activist Yusuf Halwai in the old city Srinagar on August 21, 1989. He had reportedly refused to turn off the lights of his home on Independence Day, on August 15, when NC’s Farooq Abdullah was chief minister and the JKLF had called for a 'black out'.

After Halwai, BJP leader Tika Lal Taploo was shot dead on September 13, 1989, in Habbakadal, Srinagar and after which the practice to target political workers never stopped. Over 5,000 pro-Indian political activists have been killed in identical attacks in Kashmir since 1989 while some estimates put this number at 7,000.

But the latest spate of political killings has returned to haunt the Valley at a time when the violence was apparently on the decline. Compared to 2020, there has been a steep decline in militancy-related violence in J&K, according to official data. Till July 16, the number of such incidents officially reported this year stood at 67. Between January and June 30 last year, 105 such incidents had been recorded in the Union Territory.