A sarpanch was shot at and critically injured on Friday when unidentified gunmen fired at him while he was coming out of a mosque in north Kashmir’s Sopore area in Srinagar.
The victim has been identified as Khazir Mohammad (45). Police sources said Mohammad, who was elected as a sarpanch in 2011 panchayat polls, was approached by the gunmen and was shot at outside the mosque at Krankshivan area.
“He (Mohammad) was attacked from a close range. He was immediately shifted to a hospital. The militants tried to aim gun at his head,” said a police official.
Preliminary reports suggest the victim was hit in the chin.
The incident took place at around 2 pm, immediately after Friday congregational prayers, of which Mohammad was a part.
As soon as the victim appeared from the mosque and was walking towards his home, he was shot, said locals.
The sarpanch is associated with one of the mainstream parties. He is in the intensive care unit of Srinagar's SMHS hospital. “He is under observation and is critical,” said a hospital source.
All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) chairman Shafiq Mir condemned the latest attack on the sarpanch.
“The responsibility of all the village heads killed in the state lies on chief minister Omar Abdullah who has completely failed to protect the elected representatives despite requests made by them for security cover,” he said.
Describing the attack as “a cowardice act”, Mir appealed to the human rights organizations to intervene and take note of the killings.
Around half a dozen grassroots representatives have been killed since the 2011 polls, in which 34,000 such representatives were elected.
Earlier this year, militants pasted threatening posters asking the grassroots representatives to either resign or face dire consequences.
According to the police, the role of Lashkar-e-Toiba was found in some of such killings in north Kashmir.