Bhartiya Janta Party’s leader and a municipal councilor, Rakesh Pandita was shot dead by terrorists in the Tral belt of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Wednesday evening. Pandita was rushed to the hospital but succumbed to his injuries.
The leader was visiting his friend at Tral Payeen. Another woman, reportedly the daughter of the friend whom Pandita was visiting, has also received a bullet injury in the attack. The woman has been shifted to Pulwama hospital.
Vijay Kumar, the Inspector-General of Kashmir in a statement to ANI informed, “Late in the evening today (Wednesday), three unidentified terrorists fired upon Municipal Councillor of Tral Rakesh Pandita. He was a resident of Tral Bala who was visiting his friend at Tral Payeen. Pandita succumbed to injuries whereas daughter of his friend is seriously wounded.”
Pandita was not accompanied by his personal security guards during his visit to the area as he insisted on going alone to his native village. He had two PSOs deployed for his security and was given a secured accommodation in Srinagar, informed J&K police in a statement.
The area has been cordoned off and a massive search operation is being conducted by the police and security forces to hunt the terrorists.
Pakistani terror group claims responsibility for the attack
As per a Tweet shared by journalist Aditya Raj Kaul, Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba’s front organisations have claimed responsibility for the killing of Pandita.
Pakistani terror group Lashkar e Tayyiba front organisations have claimed responsibility for killing Kashmiri Pandit Rakesh Pandita in Tral of South Kashmir yesterday evening. Yet another brutal attack against minority community in Kashmir valley. pic.twitter.com/Qi1zWKM7R8— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) June 3, 2021
A press release by People’s Anti Fascist Front reads, “If the Hindutva thugs believe that their evil designs can take roots in Kashmir then it is a delusion of great magnitude.”
Leaders condemn the attack
Condemning the attack, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said, “Saddened to hear about the terror attack on the Councillor Shri Rakesh Pandita at Tral, Pulwama. I strongly condemn the attack. My condolences to bereaved family in this time of grief.”
Saddened to hear about the terror attack on the Councillor Shri Rakesh Pandita at Tral, Pulwama. I strongly condemn the attack. My condolences to bereaved family in this time of grief.— Office of LG J&K (@OfficeOfLGJandK) June 2, 2021
“Terrorists will never succeed in their nefarious designs, and those responsible for such heinous acts shall be brought to justice,” he added.
Terrorists will never succeed in their nefarious designs, and those responsible for such heinous acts shall be brought to justice.— Office of LG J&K (@OfficeOfLGJandK) June 2, 2021
J&K BJP Chief Ravinder Raina in a video message condemned the death of Pandita and said, “In coward acts of terrorism, the Pakistani terrorist once again bled the Kashmir valley. Rakesh Pandita ji was a dedicated and committed BJP worker who always dared the Pakistanis in Kashmir Valley.”
“The martyrdom of Rakesh Pandita will not go vain,” he added.
Shame on Pakistan,— Ravinder Raina🇮🇳 (@ImRavinderRaina) June 2, 2021
Coward Pakistani Terrorists once again bleeded the Kashmir by attacking Sh.Rakesh Pandit G at Tral area of Kashmir in which he attained martyrdom, Rakesh Pandit was a brave son of Bharat Mata, his martyrdom will not go invain, all involved will be naturalized. pic.twitter.com/Lwi8816c2D
Altaf Thakur, BJP Jammu and Kashmir spokesperson termed the attack “barbaric” and asserted that such cowardly attacks by terrorists will not bring down the morale of the BJP leadership.
Political leaders from various parties have condemned the attack.
Attacks on BJP leaders in Kashmir
Five BJP leaders have been killed last year in a spate of targeted terrorist attacks which led to providing increased security and a secured accommodation in Srinagar.
In early April, a group of terrorists open-fired at the guard post of BJP leader, Anwar Khan’s residence in Nowgam, North Kashmir. One sentry who was critically injured in the attack and was rushed to the hospital has succumbed to his injuries. Anwar escaped the attack as he was not at his residence at the time of the attack.