Bandipora: The killing of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) functionary Waseem Bari, along with his father and brother, close to his residence in Bandipora area on Wednesday night has sent shockwaves across the otherwise dormant North Kashmir town.
Bari, an executive member of the BJP’s UT division, was killed outside his house at a shop owned by his family. His father Bashir Ahmad and his younger brother Umer Bashir, both of whom had affiliations with the BJP, were also shot from a point-blank range, killing all of them before they were shifted to a hospital for treatment.
The killings were carried out at around 8:30 pm despite the family’s 10-strong security cover; however, none of the security personnel were present when they were attacked. The shop is located within two minutes' walking distance from the Bandipora police station.
According to IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar, the attack was carried out by two suspected militants, which he said, belonged to Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) outfit.
“It appears to be a preplanned attack. Waseem, after returning home, went to his shop and all the PSOs went to their rooms. One militant came and fired at them with a pistol from a close range,” IGP Kumar said.
Kumar further said that all three victims were shot in the head. The police said they have identified a local militant Abid as one of the assailants who was accompanied by a foreigner. Among the guards, two were from the security wing and eight from the district police. As many as eight police personnel were on duty during the attack, but had retreated to their rooms located above the shop. The IGP added that all the security guards have been suspended and subsequently detained for dereliction of duty and are likely to be dismissed from service.
Bari, an influential BJP worker in the area, is survived by a sister, wife, and two infant children.
As their bodies lied inside their home where mourners were gathering to pay obeisance, the family wailed inconsolably around the three bodies. “First, we thought they were only injured, but then we came to know they had killed them all. We want justice and the killers should be identified,” a relative of the victims told NewsClick.
The IGP visited the spot early Thursday morning to meet the family members and take a stock of the situation. He also visited the police station to discuss the investigation with local police and officials from CRPF and Army.
The killing is seen as the first high-profile attack on a BJP worker in the region this year, especially after the abrogation of Article 370. Many BJP workers present on the spot, however, told NewsClick that the attack will not deter them. “He was like my younger brother. He was just working for a political party and helped the locals. It is a sad incident, but there will be action against the killer, these are innocents’ killings,” BJPs district president Abdul Rehman Tekri said.
District Youth President of BJP Engineer Tahir Bhat called it a “cowardly” act and said there is no issue of security. “It is not good. At the end of the day, human beings were killed and I condemn it,” he said.
The victims are likely to be buried at a hillock nearby, where four unnamed persons have been buried so far, as the family did not own any hereditary portion in the local graveyard.
Senior BJP leaders like J&K chief Ravinder Raina and party’s general secretary Ashok Kaul also visited the family and participated in the last rites of the victims.
The killings were carried out when parts of the Valley were observing a shutdown on the fourth death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen’s militant commander Burhan Wani and a month after militants shot dead a Congress party Sarpanch Ajay Pandita in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district on June 8.
Located between the frontier districts of Kupwara, Baramulla, and Ganderbal and adjacent to Gurez valley, Bandipora is a hilly region with minimal militant presence as compared to other districts of the Valley. The killings are seen as the first major militant attack on mainstream party workers in the area in years.
Also read: Kashmir Insurgency: The Rise and Decline of Militant South