Kashmir faces new security nightmare as militants target political workers to stifle pro-India voices

BJP's Sopore Assembly constituency president, Farooq Ahmad Rather, remained hiding in his house quite often. Any suspicious knock at the Sopore house, where he visits from Srinagar, would alert and make the 33-year-old nervous and frightened. Now he has been living away from his family and puts up at a hotel in Srinagar, which is over 50 kilometre from his village after militants visited his house twice and threatened his family members to kill him if he continues to remain associated with the BJP. In August, this year, he was twice visited by unknown gunmen and escaped from attack as his parents lied to the militants that he was not at home. He was hiding in the attic of his other house before he was shifted by the government in September to a Srinagar hotel, where he is guarded by three police personnel.

 Kashmir faces new security nightmare as militants target political workers to stifle pro-India voices

Security nightmare in Jammu and Kashmir. AFP

On 29 November as Farooq went to visit his family in Sopore, militants came and burnt to rubble his under-construction house. The attacks on pro-India politicians like Farooq which includes MLAs and ministers have stepped up in the last one year. After BJP youth activist Gowhar Bhat was killed by militants and his throat-slit body was recovered on 3 November, two police personnel were deployed at Farooq's Sopore house as well. 

However, he said, the policemen didn’t join duties at his house fearing that they may be run down in an attack by militants, who could be higher in number. He asked the government to shift his family to a government accommodation in Sopore, which is protected by a large number of policemen, but said, "I am instead made to live in a single hotel room in Srinagar. The government officers have been made to live in the protected area in Sopore, but my family has not been shifted even after the militants burnt the house."

The stepped-up militant violence against the pro-India politicians has been a security nightmare as the police have to provide additional deployments at the houses of politicians and also provide them bullet-proof vehicles. But that has however not helped to revive the pro-India political activities in Kashmir and the public rallies are still not being held in the militancy-infested areas particularly in the southern part of Kashmir, where the parliamentary election in April this year was cancelled after many people were killed during the polling in Srinagar constituency.  

Though Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, visited some of the districts recently and even to South Kashmir area of Pulwama, they have happened amid tight security. Mehbooba as well former chief ministers, Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah, are under heavy security cover of police and paramilitary forces.

This is, however, unlike BJP’s Farooq who said that his security has been curtailed. "I was provided security by a team of five police personnel, but two of them have been withdrawn. I was told by senior police officials that they will withdraw two other policemen as well. I asked that I should be provided with a vehicle which has not happened," he said.

On 3 November after militants killed BJP worker, Bhat, Superintendent of Police, Shopian, AS Dinkar, said, "adequate security measures have been made to protect his family" and other political workers. But on 16 December, a video of BJP worker Mohammad Maqbool Wagay from Shopian being beaten up by militants went viral. In the video, Wagay promised to snap ties with the BJP.

BJP leader and party’s media coordinator, Altaf Thakur, said that after the PDP-BJP formed an alliance in the state at least 22 incidents of militant attacks on the workers have been reported across Kashmir. He said that he was also living in Srinagar and is unable to visit his hometown in Tral. "I was attacked by stone throwers at my private residential house at Hazratbal in Srinagar recently and I have now moved to a government accommodation," Thakur said. He said that he was not able to visit his Dadsara house in Tral for nearly six years.

The incidents of attacks by militants have particularly gone up this year as the support for pro-freedom activities has notched up following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander, Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Unlike past elections when a good strength of people turned to cast votes across Kashmir, people have largely boycotted the mainstream political activities in Kashmir. After the recent killing of a driver in Kupwara in the action by the army, Hurriyat(G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, asked people to remain away from supporting the mainstream parties. He called people to boycott Panchayat or parliamentary polls that may be announced.  

"Few people who vote in election dramas were not only committing an act of treason, their actions were also acting as oxygen for the Indian occupation of Kashmir. It is very sad that in Kupwara a few people voted even for BJP. Taking part in the election process is tantamount to betrayal with the sacred blood of martyrs and any sort of participation in elections would prolong our struggle for freedom," he said in a statement.

PDP legislator from Tral, Mustaq Ahmad Shah, said that it could be even the local militants who were behind the attack on his house on 20 October. He said that after he remained associated with the PDP, it was the first time that militants attacked his house and he escaped unhurt as he was not in Tral. Only a month back on 21 September PDP leader and state Public Works Minister, Nayeem Akhtar, was also attacked by militants in Tral as he was driving to oversee the developmental works in Wani’s hometown. After militants attacked the security cavalcade, three civilians were killed. A CPRF personnel was among the 30 others injured.   

Both the houses of PDP’s Wachi MLA, Aijaz Ahmad Mir, and NC’s MLC from the same area, Showkat Ahmad Ganie, were attacked by militants. While a grenade was hurled on the house of PDP MLA in October this year, the house that belonged to NC MLC was attacked in January.

"After militants attacked PDP MLAs house recently a police party had rushed from the nearby police station, but they had managed to flee," said a police official.

Updated Date: Dec 22, 2017 16:27:13 IST



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