Bharatiya Janata Party councillor Rakesh Pandita was shot dead in Jammu and Kashmir’s Tral area in Pulwama district on Wednesday, Greater Kashmir reported.
The politician had gone to visit a friend, identified as Mushtaq Ahmed, when suspected militants opened fire. Ahmed’s daughter, Asifa Mushtaq, was also reportedly hit and is said to be in a serious condition.
Pandita was taken to SDH Tral where doctors declared him dead on arrival. “Rakesh had multiple bullet injuries,” a doctor told Greater Kashmir.
The Kashmir Zone Police tweeted that Pandita had been provided two protective service officer and had a secured hotel accommodation in Srinagar, but he went to Tral without the security cover.
A case has been registered under relevant sections and an investigation is under way. The area was cordoned off after the incident and a search operation was conducted to look for the accused.
In 2018, after major political parties boycotted the local polls, Pandita was elected to the municipal council in Tral unopposed, reported NDTV.
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha condemned the attack and expressed grief. “Saddened to hear about the terror attack on the Councillor Shri Rakesh Pandita at Tral, Pulwama,” his office tweeted. “My condolences to bereaved family in this time of grief.”
Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Altaf Thakur also condemned the killing and said the “attacks won’t stop BJP leaders from serving the people”, reported the Hindustan Times. “Attacking unarmed people is not bravery and the police must track down the culprits and punish them accordingly,” he added.
Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti expressed shock over the incident and said “senseless acts of violence have brought only misery to J&K”.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said Pandita was “targeted and assassinated in Kashmir” because of his association with electoral politics.