A local political leader, Ghulam Nabi Patel, 61, who was earlier associated with the Congress and PDP, was killed and two of his personal security officers (PSOs) injured when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his vehicle in Rajpora market, 7 km from Pulwama town, on Wednesday.
According to reports, Patel was in his vehicle, a Scorpio, at Rajpora Chowk around 3.20 pm when the gunmen opened indiscriminate fire, before fleeing the spot. Patel, who suffered bullet injuries on his face, and his two PSOs were rushed to a local hospital. Patel was later shifted to Srinagar, but died on the way.
No militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the attack so far. Patel is the third senior political leader to be gunned down in South Kashmir in the last six months. “Militants killed Patel and injured his two PSOs, Imtiyaz Ahmad and Bilal Ahmad, when they opened fire on his vehicle. A case has been registered,’’ said a police spokesman.
Patel had unsuccessfully contested the assembly elections from Rajpora constituency in 2002 and 2008 — on a Congress ticket the first time, and later as a Socialist Democratic Party of India candidate. More recently, Patel was associated with the PDP. But a senior PDP leader from South Kashmir claimed Patel had left the party and joined another mainstream political party.
Heartfelt condolences to the family of senior Congress leader, G. N. Patel who was killed by militants today in Rajpora. Such cowardly acts achieve nothing but leave one more family devastated.
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) April 25, 2018
Soon after the killing, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “Heartfelt condolences to the family of senior Congress leader G N Patel who was killed by militants today in Rajpora. Such cowardly acts achieve nothing but leave one more family devastated.”
But J&K Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir told The Indian Express that Patel had left the Congress. “In 2008, he left the Congress and contested elections on the Socialist Democratic Party of India ticket. In the last assembly elections (2014), he joined the PDP in the presence of Mehbooba Mufti, and was currently affiliated with her party,” he said. “He enjoyed security and an official accommodation, which has been denied to all Congress leaders in South Kashmir,’’ Mir pointed out.
“How tragic that Patel Sahib, a political worker assassinated by militants in Kashmir, is being disowned by both the PDP & Congress. If neither party is willing to own him as one of their own, let’s just call him a NC worker so his death is not in vain,’’ former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted.
In October last year, militants killed former sarpanch and senior PDP leader Mohammad Ramzan Sheikh at Chack Harmona village in Shopian district. A month later, BJP youth leader, Gowhar Ahmad Bhat, was also killed in the same district.
While nobody has taken credit for these killings, militants have often warned mainstream political workers and leaders to leave their parties or face the consequences.