Barely 12 hours after the killing of the Bhartiya Janta Party’s vice-president of Anantnag district unit, hardly any prominent party leader turned up for his funeral on Sunday. The glaring absence in the final farewell of the fallen party colleague was justified on the grounds of “holdup of security clearance” and preparations for Lok Sabha polling in Kashmir.
It was at around 9.15 pm on Saturday night when suspected militants stormed the residence of Gul Mohammad Mir (60) in Nowgam area of South Kashmir’s Verinag and shot him multiple times. It appeared to be a political killing similar to such incidents which take place in the state, taking place hours just hours before the last leg of polling for Anantnag seat, on 6 May.
The deceased was considered a veteran BJP leader in Kashmir, who as per his relatives had “kept the BJP’s flag afloat during trying times in south Kashmir”.
“We couldn’t participate in his funeral due to security reasons,” one of the top BJP leaders from south Kashmir told Firstpost. “Police told us to wait for security clearance by 10 am today, but it was never given.”
At past 11 am, some mourners — mostly Mir’s relatives — lined up for his funeral. Unlike the larger-than-life militant funeral in this part of Kashmir, the BJP leader’s was a hush-hush interment affair.
Even the party’s Anantnag candidate, Sofi Yousuf, was missing from the scene.
On Saturday night, Sofi was one of the first persons to confirm his party leader’s killing. “Sofi sahab intended to come, but then he received an eleventh-hour call from party high command from New Delhi, instructing him to concentrate on campaigning in Pulwama,” a party leader said on condition of anonymity. “Keeping tomorrow’s polls in view, most of our party rank and file are busy in Pulwama and Shopian and therefore couldn’t participate in Mir Sahab’s last rites.”
For the last leg of polling for Anantnag seat, Pulwama and Shopian will cast their ballot on Monday, under strict security arrangements. Anantnag and Kulgam already went for polls and drew a low turnout.
Known as Attal, the nickname he earned for his great awe and admiration for the late BJP prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mir had unsuccessfully contested Assembly elections for Dooru Assembly segment in 2008 and 2014.
He received five bullet wounds, three in the chest and two in the abdomen and was declared brought dead on arrival at the hospital.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned Mir’s killing. “His contribution towards strengthening the party in J&K will always be remembered,” PM Modi said in a tweet. “There is no place for such violence in our country. Condolences to his family and well-wishers.”
Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah condemned “the dastardly act of violence” while praying for the soul of the departed.
“I strongly condemn the killing of @BJP4India leader Gul Muhammad Mir in Verinag, South Kashmir,” People’s Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti said. “My condolences to the bereaved family and prayers for the departed soul.”
Following the killing, Governor Satya Pal Malik directed Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam “to get an enquiry” conducted into the killings of political people belonging to various political parties in the state in the last few months. According to a statement released by Raj Bhavan, the governor has asked for identifying any lapses on the part of security agencies regarding ensuring security of political people and has said that from now onwards, “all political people should be protected at every cost”.
But it was the absence of top state BJP leaders at their slain colleague’s funeral which left many party supporters seething on Sunday.
“Is this how the BJP and its leaders are paying homage to the man who set the party base in south Kashmir from last one decade?” said an angry party worker, who was among a few mourners lined up for Mir’s funeral. “The man braved threats for the party. Now when he faced bullet for the party, his party leaders snubbed him and focused on polls.”
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Updated Date: May 05, 2019 17:44:18 IST