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Sarpanch shot dead by militants in Khanmoh

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 The killing condemned widely

Srinagar: A Sarpanch was shot dead by militants in Khanmoh area on the outskirts of Srinagar on Wednesday, police said.

The Resistance Front (TRF), “a shadow outfit of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba”, has claimed responsibility for the attack that killed Sameer Ahmed Bhat, an independent Sarpanch.

Bhat had been provided with security and lodged at a hotel in Srinagar but he had ventured out discreetly on Wednesday when he was attacked by the militants at Khonmoh on the outskirts of the city, the police said.

He was rushed to a hospital where he died, they said.

A police spokesman said preliminary investigation revealed that terrorists barged into the Sarpanch’s house and fired indiscriminately upon him.

Police registered a case. “The investigation is in progress and officers are working to establish the circumstances which led to this terror crime. The area was cordoned off and a search in the area was underway,” a police spokesman said.

Bhat’s killing evoked strong reactions from various political parties.

“Condemn the attack on Sarpanch Sameer Ahmad Bhat in Khonmoh in the strongest possible terms. This senseless bloodshed must come to an end…. Heartfelt condolences to his family and friends,” the National Conference (NC) wrote on Twitter.

The PDP also condemned the killing and said that contrary to the tall claims of the administration, such recurring attacks highlight the deteriorating security scenario in Kashmir.

“Strongly condemn the assassination of Sarpanch Khonmoh, Sameer Ahmed Bhat. Contrary to the tall claims of the administration such recurring attacks highlight the deteriorating security scenario in Kashmir. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family in this hour of grief,” the party said in a tweet.

In a tweet, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah said, “Very tragic. The assassination of Sameer Bhat is reprehensible & I condemn it unequivocally. He joins a long list of politicians & elected representatives whose only crime was their desire to work for the greater good.”

The Peoples Conference also condemned the killing.

“Strongly condemn the killing of sarpanch, Sameer Ahmad Bhat in Khonmoh. Days before, a representative was also shot to create sense of fear and terror. There seems no end to this ruthless violence. Condolences to the family of Sameer. May your soul rest in peace!” the party said.

Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari said political workers have rendered great sacrifices to uphold democratic values in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Shocking beyond words, a Sarpanch was killed in Srinagar outskirts. Highly reprehensible act of violence. Political workers have rendered great sacrifices to uphold democratic values in J&K. My heart goes out to the victims of such violence and we share the grief of the bereaved,” he said.

The BJP’s J&K spokesperson Altaf Thakur said the killing is a gruesome act which is highly deplorable and deserves condemnation.

“The militants involved in the act are enemies of humanity and peace, who by killing unarmed civilians claim bravery, but in fact they are cowards who feel frustrated by the grass-root democracy flourishing in Kashmir,” Thakur said.

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