Kishtwar tense after killing of BJP leader Anil Parihar and brother Ajit

The Indian Army staged a flag march in communally-sensitive Kishtwar of Jammu and Kashmir and a curfew continued in the town following angry protests after a senior BJP leader and his brother were shot dead by suspected militants on Thursday, officials said on Friday.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s state secretary Anil Parihar, 52, and his brother Ajeet, 55, were returning home from their shop when they were fired upon from close range at a dark, narrow lane leading to their house, the officials said, adding this was the first such political killing in Jammu region in recent years.

“Around 11.09pm the army staged a flag march in the town. We didn’t allow people to come out of their homes following the incident because Kishtwar is a communally sensitive area,” Kishtwar’s deputy commissioner Angrez Singh Rana said.

Rana said a curfew remains imposed in the town and prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which bans the gathering of more than four people, has been clamped in Chatroo and Padder sub-divisions of the district to avoid any law and order problem.

“As of now police and paramilitary besides few columns of the army remain deployed in the town,” he added.

The deputy commissioner said the situation remained tense in the district following the killings.

“… Now, who was behind the attack and who were the assailants remains a subject of investigation. It would not be apt for me to comment on it at this stage,” Rana said.

The restive state is scheduled to hold panchayat polls from November 17.

Kishtwar district has witnessed communal clashes in the past, the last in August 2013. Militants have attempted to create communal tension in the region by targeting Hindus, especially in the higher reaches. In 2001, they killed 17 Hindu nomads.

‘Cowardly act’

The killings of Parihar brothers drew condemnation from all political parties.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh expressed shock over the killings, saying the police will leave no stone unturned to bring perpetrators of the crime to justice.

“Shocked and pained by the killing of J&K State BJP leader Anil Parihar and his brother. My heart goes out to the bereaved family,” he said in a tweet.

The home minister said he spoke to K Vijay Kumar, the advisor to the Jammu and Kashmir governor, and took a stock of the incident.

BJP president Amit Shah said the attack was “a cowardly act that shames humanity”.

“Just got the tragic news of killing of Shri Anil Parihar, Secretary @BJP4JnK, and his brother by terrorists in Kishtwar. This is a cowardly act that shames humanity. I grieve the death of my valued colleague and pray that God gives his family strength to bear this untimely loss,” Shah tweeted.

President of the BJP’s state unit Ravinder Raina said cowards involved in the dastardly attack will not be spared.

‘”In this hour of grief, the BJP and countrymen stand by the aggrieved family. The cowards shot them in the dark from point blank range. They will not be spared and has to pay for it,” he said.

Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah said it was a “very sad news” and offered condolences to the families of the Parihar brothers.

“… May their souls rest in peace,” he tweeted.

BJP general secretary Ashok Koul called for punishment to the culprits involved in it.

CPI(M) legislator MY Tarigami and state Congress president Gulam Ahmed Mir also condemned the killings of the BJP leader and his brother. Mir termed the attack “barbaric and unfortunate” and pointed towards the deteriorating law and order situation in the state.

National Conference’s Jammu province chief Devender Rana said the killings were “barbaric, inhuman and most unfortunate”.

“Violence has no place in a civilised society,” Rana said and hoped that the people will unitedly face the challenge posed by elements inimical to peace and tranquillity.