J&K BJP says it lost 21 leaders, 3 Sarpanchs since 1996 to attacks

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‘In past less than a month, we lost 3 leaders, a Sarpanch, Police must provide security cover to party leaders, workers, panchayat representatives forthwith’

Srinagar, Aug 06 (KNO): Bhartiya Janata Party’s Jammu and Kashmir Thursday said that at least its 21 leaders and three Sarpanchs were killed since 1996 by the militants and in the past less than a month alone, its three leaders and a sarpanch were killed.

Sources in the BJP said that even though BJP’s J&K chapter was formed in early 1990s, the party started gaining popularity in 1996. “Since 1996, our 21 leaders and three Sarpanchs have been killed by militants. In the past less than a month, we lost our three sarpanchs including the one who was killed today at Vessu, an area of Qazigund in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district,” they told news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO)

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A BJP leader said the party suffered a major loss on July 8 this year when militants killed party’s young face Waseem Bari, his brother Omar Sultan and his father Sheikh Bashir Ahmed.

“Waseem was the party’s face in Bandipora district and his brother was north Kashmir incharge while their father was former vice president of the party in Bandipora district, but a very active member of the party,” said BJP’s J&K spokesman Altaf Thakur. He said all the party leaders, workers, Sarpanchs and panchs must get proper security cover and safe accommodation as “all are vulnerable now.”

Talking to KNO, party’s vice-president and senior leader Sofi Yousuf said that BJP has sacrificed a lot over the past over two decades. “We have lost many of our workers and leaders to the violence. BJP was considered as a non-existent party till 2000. But of late, we are a growing party in Kashmir and have our grass root workers everywhere across Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Yousuf said that due to the growing popularity of BJP in Kashmir, some powers are not happy and militants are now targeting BJP workers and leaders. “This is not going to break our resolve for ensuring development and peace in the Valley. Today, militants killed one of our Sarpanch Sajad Khanday, who always worked for the poor. Many more Sajad’s will join us soon,” he said.

However, a BJP insider said it was high time for the police top brass to provide a security cover to the workers, leaders, Sarpanchs, Panchs and Corporators across Kashmir. “Majority of us are vulnerable now and they should be provided with the safe accommodation and security forthwith,” he said, adding that the recent killings of BJP leaders and Sarpanch has triggered a fresh wave of fear among the party cadre across the Valley—(KNO)

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