Several BJP leaders in Jammu and Kashmir resigned in panic on Sunday, hours after suspected militants shot at and critically injured a leader of the party in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
The attack on Abdul Hamid Najar, Budgam district president of the BJP’s OBC Morcha, was the third on a leader of the party in the Valley over the past week. The earlier attacks, too, had been followed by resignations from BJP leaders.
Also on Sunday, a man claiming to be a militant said in an audio message that they have killed a Territorial Army soldier who went missing from his home in Shopian seven days ago.
“We are still verifying it (the audio message),” Shopian Superintendent of Police Amrit Pal Singh told The Indian Express. Police and the Army have been searching for the missing soldier, Shakir Manzoor Wagay.
Najar was shot at while he was on a morning walk near the railway station in Budgam. He was taken to Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar for treatment.
On August 6, militants shot dead a BJP sarpanch, Sajad Ahmad Khanday, at Vessu in Qazigund in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. A day previously, another BJP sarpanch, Arif Ahmad, had been shot at and injured at Qazigund’s Akhran village.
Earlier on July 8, militants had killed a senior BJP leader, Sheikh Waseem Bari, along with his father and brother – both of whom were BJP workers as well – in Bandipore.
A senior police officer said on Sunday that Najar had left the secure residence that the government had allotted to him. Police had earlier said that Khanday too, was attacked after he left his secure accommodation to visit his home.
Later in the day, at least four BJP leaders – general secretary of the party’s Bandipore unit Avtar Krishan, district president of Budgam Imran Ahmad Parray, constituency president Wali Mohammad Bhat, and Budgam district office secretary Sameer Ahmad Shah – issued written statements announcing their resignation from the BJP. The BJP is the only mainstream political party that is present on the ground in Kashmir.
In Shopian, the purported militant said in the audio that the body of the Territorial Army soldier, Wagay, had been buried in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We have brought him (Wagay) to an end,” the militant, who called himself Abu Talha, said. “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.”
The refusal to return the soldier’s body appears to be retaliation against the government’s decision since March to not hand over the bodies of militants killed in encounters, and instead bury them in unmarked graves across the Valley.
Police have argued that giving the bodies to the militants’ families would attract large numbers of people to the funerals, and could lead to the spread of Covid-19.
“Exactly in the way the Army clandestinely buries our martyred mujahideen, we have ourselves performed his (Wagay’s) last rites and haven’t handed over his body to the family,” the militant says in the audio message.
The 24-year-old soldier, who was posted at the Territorial Army’s Balpora camp, had disappeared soon after leaving his home in Harmain in Shopian on August 2. The car in which he was travelling was found burnt and abandoned at Nehama village in Kulgam some 16 km away that same evening.
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