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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Kashmir govt orders probe into killing of guarded sarpanch

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, February 25, 2013
First Published: 20:58 IST(25/2/2013) | Last Updated: 20:59 IST(25/2/2013)

Preferring not to point fingers at any group or individual, state home minister Sajad Kitchloo on Monday ordered a high-level inquiry into the killing of a well-protected sarpanch in north Kashmir on Sunday.

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"North Kashmir's deputy inspector general of police has been asked to file a report within a week to establish how the incident took place and who were involved. Things will be clear only after the inquiry," said Kitchloo, who visited the slain sarpanch's home in north Kashmir's Kreeri area.

Some unidentified gunmen had opened fire at Javaid Wani, 42, when he was on his way back home at Kalantra village in Kreeri area.

Survived by wife and two school-going children, Wani had a long association with the ruling National Conference. The police are questioning two personal security officers (PSOs), who were not accompanying Wani when the incident took place.

"Wani was provided with two PSOs for the past nine years. They are being questioned on why they were not present at the residence of the protected individual," Central Kashmir's deputy inspector general of police Afad-ul-Mujtaba told mediapersons in Srinagar.

Preliminary reports suggest the sarpanch has a well-guarded government accommodation in Srinagar and the PSOs were there on Sunday. Wani had gone to Kreeri, around 30 km north of Srinagar, four days ago and was apparently staying without any security cover.

Confirming questioning of police personnel, chief minister Omar Abdullah said, "The circumstances surrounding the location of his bodyguards is the subject of investigation."

No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

This is the second such killing of grassroots representatives in north Kashmir this year. At least five grassroots representatives have been killed by suspected militants since panchayat polls held in 2011, after a gap of 30 years.

The killing has once again instilled a sense of insecurity among the grassroots representatives, who are demanding security.

"The government has to wake up from the slumber and provide security to these representatives," said All-Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Movement president Shafiq Mir.

Earlier, the chief minister had expressed inability to provided security cover to all 3,400 grassroots representatives. However, he had put in place a synergetic security mechanism to identify people facing threats and had directed area domination where there was threat perception.

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