Zoona Begum’s family has decided not to seek security to avoid attracting “more attacks”. “We don’t want personal security. That will cause more problems for me. I have three young children at home,” her husband Mohammad Ramzan said.
The CM cancelled a dinner with his cabinet ministers and met senior officials from the police and security agencies even as unconfirmed reports of gunmen firing at another sarpanch in Sopore emerged. The sarpanch is said to have escaped unhurt.
Ever since a record turnout of 80% in the panchayat polls in 2011, members of the grassroots body have been continuously targeted. So far, four have been killed.
The police suspect the involvement of militants in many of the attacks, but have not ruled out personal rivalries being the reason in some instances. In November last year, Syed Salahuddin, the chairman of militant conglomerate United Jehad Council, accused mainstream politicians of “portraying the panchayat elections as a referendum by Kashmiris for Union of India”.
Meanwhile, hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani accused the police of “sluggish investigations” into the attacks.