The mortal remains of BJP councillor Rakesh Pandita, who was shot dead by militants in south Kashmir’s Pulwama, reached his Jammu residence on Thursday morning. Pandita was killed by unidentified militants in the Tral area of Pulwama district late on Wednesday evening. Pandita, the municipal chairman of Tral, was visiting a friend, Mushtaq Ahmad, when three militants opened fire at them. Ahmad’s daughter was also injured in the incident.
Pandita’s mortal remains arrived at his Roopnagar residence here at around 8.45 am and a number of people, including top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, thronged his home despite Covid restrictions. Emotions ran high as the body arrived. The inconsolable family members broke down while people shouted ”Rakesh Pandita amar rahe” (long live Rakesh Pandita).
Jammu and Kashmir BJP chief Ravinder Raina, MP Jugal Kishore Sharma and former legislator Ajay Bharati were among those present. People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti condemned the killing of the BJP leader.
”Shocked to hear that BJP leader Rakesh Pandita has been shot dead by militants. These senseless acts of violence have brought only misery to J&K. My condolences to the family & may his soul rest in peace,” the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said in a tweet. Raina said Pandita’s ”martyrdom” will not go in vain.
”Pakistani terrorists have once again bled the Kashmir valley. The coward Pakistanis attacked Pandita, a dedicated and committed BJP worker who always dared Pakistanis in the valley, in the darkness of the night. Pandita’s martyrdom will not go in vain,” he told reporters. Raina further said, ”The terrorists causing a bloodbath in the valley will be eliminated. It is a murder of humanity and Kashmiriyat.” In June last year, a Kashmiri Pandit sarpanch was shot dead by militants in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
Ajay Pandit (40), who was a Congress member and the sarpanch of the Lukbawan Panchayat halqa in Anantnag’s Larkipora area, was shot dead by the militants in his native village, police had said. Rakesh Pandita’s killing was the second such incident targeting Kashmiri Pandits in 17 years. Outfits representing the community alleged that it was an attempt to trigger a ”fear psychosis” among Kashmiri Pandits as was done in the valley in the 1990s.