A sarpanch associated to the Bharatiya Janata Party in Kulgam, Jammu and Kashmir, was allegedly shot by suspected militants on Tuesday, The Indian Express reported. Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Altaf Thakur called it a “barbaric attack”.
This came a day before the first anniversary of the withdrawal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5, 2019, and amid sweeping restrictions placed across the erstwhile state. Police and the Central Reserve Police Force personnel were deployed in heavy numbers across the Valley.
The police said the incident occurred in Akhran village of the district when the militants barged into the house of sarpanch Arif Ahmad and opened fire from close range.
“He was shifted to emergency hospital Qazigund,” Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar told the Hindustan times. “He had a firearm injury in the neck and condition is critical.”
According to The Indian Express, Ahmad was admitted to the Government Medical College in Anantnag. “He has a bullet in the chest… His condition remains critical,” said Mohammad Iqbal, the medical superintendent of the hospital.
Meanwhile, two police personnel were also injured in a separate attack by suspected militants in Pulwama. The police said the militants lobbed a grenade on Special Operations Group personnel in Wanpora village.
“Both the policemen received splinter injuries,” an unidentified police official told The Indian Express. “They were immediately evacuated and are stable.” The injured policemen have been identified as Head Constable Khurshid Ahmad and Special Police Officer Ishfaq Ahmad.
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Farooq Abdullah calls meeting
National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, meanwhile, has called an all-party meeting at his residence in Srinagar on Wednesday. Senior leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party , Peoples Conference, the Congress and some smaller parties have been invited.
The Hindu reported that the meeting was an apparent move to revive the Gupkar declaration signed at Abdullah’s residence last year. On August 4, Kashmiri political parties had met at Gupkar and vowed to protect Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. It came to be known as the Gupkar Declaration, the last political statement to come out from Kashmir before communications were snuffed out for months.
“The crucial meeting at Abdullah’s residence will deliberate over the prevailing political mess across J&K from August 5, 2019,” an unidentified NC official told the newspaper. “A future strategy will be chalked out.”
However, the meeting is unlikely to take place as most of the political leaders of the Valley are still under detention. Besides this, even though the curfew imposed in Kashmir was lifted on Tuesday, restrictions on “movement of more than three persons” remains in place. Additionally, a complete lockdown has been enforced in containment zones.
Abdullah told The Indian Express that he had planned the meeting but was uncertain how it would progress. “But you see, they have already stationed [security] vehicles outside our houses, they have closed it [the entrance],” he said. “Is this the government?”
The Congress and National Conference on Tuesday had said that August 5 would go down as the “darkest day” in the history of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The parties held a joint meeting in Kargil. In the statement, they said the Bharatiya Janata Party had also been invited to attend, but did not do so.