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Slain sarpanch from Anantnag cremated in Jammu

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LG, others condemn killing

Jammu: A Kashmiri Pandit sarpanch, who was shot dead by suspected militants in Anantnag on Monday, was cremated here in the presence of scores of mourners including leaders of the Congress, the BJP and other organisations.

A number of people, who gathered at the Shaktinagar cremation ground for the last rites of Ajay Pandit ignoring the COVID-19 restrictions, shouted slogans against Pakistan and militant outfit The Resistance Front (TRF).

Ajay Pandit (40), who was a Congress member and Sarpanch of the Lukbawan Panchayat halqa in Larkipora area in Anantnag district, was shot dead by militants in his native village at around 6 PM on Monday, police had said.

Some members of the Kashmiri Pandit community also protested against the alleged failure of authorities to provide security to the Panchayat member despite the threats issued by the militant outfit.

It was the first such killing of a minority community member in 16 years, Kashmiri Pandit outfits said and alleged that it was an attempt to create a “fear psychosis” among the community members as was done in the Valley in 1990s.

Wrapped in the tricolour, Pandit’s mortal remains were taken to his Jammu home from Kashmir early this morning, officials said.

Emotions ran high and people started shouting slogans against Pakistan and the TRF as the inconsolable family members grieved over the body.

It was then taken to the cremation ground where a few hundred people gathered to pay their last respects.

The president of J&K unit of the BJP, Ravinder Raina, J&K Congress president Gulam Ahmed Mir, president of All Party Migrant Cooperation Committee (APMCC) Vinod Pandita, Relief Commissioner T K Bhat, BJP general secretary Ashok Kaul and former BJP MLCs Surinder Ambardar and Ajay Bharati were among those present.

A section of people expressed their anger that no representative of the Jammu and Kashmir government was present.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu on Tuesday condemned the killing of a Sarpanch by militants in Anantnag district, saying those behind the incident are enemies of humanity.

Calling it a cowardly act, he said that an “attack on any public representative is an attack on the democratic setup”.

Those behind the killing are enemies of humanity, Murmu said, adding that he has directed authorities to spare no efforts in bringing the culprits to justice.

Murmu expressed solidarity with the bereaved family members of Pandita.

Senior Congress leader Karan Singh termed the killing of a Sarpanch a “despicable act” and said targeting him was part of the continuing attempt to disrupt grassroots political structure.

Singh, the former Sadr-e-Riyasat of Jammu and Kashmir, said regardless of party or religious factors, this act needs to be severely condemned.

“That Pandita belonged to the minority community makes his killing even more painful. My deep condolences and sympathy to the bereaved family,” the former Sadar-e-Riyasat of J&K said.

Strongly condemning the killing, CPI (M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami has demanded security cover to all the political activists of Jammu and Kashmir.

In a statement issued here today Tarigami said, “Such incidents are inhuman and unfortunate and the society must come out and express itself against such brutal acts of violence”.

He expressed condolences with the bereaved family and demanded that those responsible for the act must  be brought to book.

The All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) also condemned the killing, saying such cowardly attacks would not deter it from strengthening democracy in the grassroots level of the Union Territory.

The AJKPC reiterated its demand for security to its members and also advocated an adequate compensation to the family of the deceased.

Congress leader Ghulam Ahmed Mir hit out at the government. “Despite several representations, the government failed to provide him security. He was left to be killed by terrorists. The government is responsible for it,” he told reporters here. (With PTI Inputs)

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