Suspected militants shot dead a sarpanch in Pattan area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Friday, police said, the fourth such attack on grassroots representatives in the Valley this year.
Political parties have condemned the killing, which comes less than two weeks ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu, where he is expected to address members of the Panchayati Raj Institutions.
Police said Manzoor Ahmad Bangroo, who was the sarpanch of Goshbugh village, was not associated with any political party.
“In this terror crime, he received critical gunshot injuries and was immediately evacuated to a nearby hospital for treatment. However, doctors declared him dead on arrival,” a police statement said, adding the area has been cordoned off and a search is on for the attackers.
While condemning the incident, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) asked why killings of sarpanches in the Valley have continued “despite multiple security assessments and bundling them in secure accommodations in Srinagar”.
“There seems to be no end in sight to the bloodbath in Kashmir. Yet nothing seems to move GOI enough to change its approach towards J&K,” PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.
Two sarpanches were killed in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district and one on the outskirts of Srinagar in March.
On March 12, Shabir Ahmad Mir, the sarpanch of Kulgam’s Audora village, was shot dead by suspected militants. Police said he had been staying at a hotel in Srinagar “for security reasons” and had left for his village without informing them.
On March 9, Sameer Ahmad Bhat, who was the sarpanch of Khonmoh village on the outskirts of Srinagar, was killed outside his house.
On March 2, at Kulpora village in Kulgam, sarpanch Mohammad Yaqoob Dar, 52, was on his way home after taking a round of the village when he was fired upon. He died on the spot.
Meanwhile, condemning Bangroo’s killing, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said: “Perpetrators of this despicable act shall be punished. My deepest condolences to the bereaved family in this hour of grief.”
Former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Another targeted killing, another family in mourning this evening. This unending cycle of violence is heartbreaking. My condolences to the family of Manzoor Bangroo. May he find a place in Jannat (paradise).”
Condemning the killing, the BJP however denied reports the sarpanch was affiliated with the party.