BJP wants security for J&K cadre
According to a party functionary who spoke on condition of anonymity, the demand for “safe spaces” in Srinagar and other district headquarters was placed before BJP president JP Nadda last week.Updated: Aug 11, 2020 02:36 IST
After the killing of five party workers in two months by terror groups stoked panic among its cadre in the Kashmir Valley, the Jammu and Kashmir unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has sought more secure living spaces for senior functionaries and public representatives at the panchayat and district levels.
According to a party functionary who spoke on condition of anonymity, the demand for “safe spaces” in Srinagar and other district headquarters was placed before BJP president JP Nadda last week.
“There is a clear targeted killing of BJP workers; the party is working on measures that will be taken to address the concerns of the workers in the Valley. For now, they have been urged to remain cautious and avoid travelling unless it is urgent,” said a senior BJP leader in Delhi.
There are intelligence inputs that attacks could intensify in the run-up to Independence Day, the functionary said.
Since the killing of Ajay Bharti, a Congress man and the sarpanch of Lukbawan village in south Kashmir’s Larkipora area in June, five BJP workers have been gunned down.
The victims include Wasim Bari, his brother Umar Bashir and father Bashir Ahmed, who were all shot outside their shop in Bandipora in July. Sarpanch Sajad Ahmad Khanday was killed in Kulgam on Friday and on Monday, party worker Abdul Hamid Najar in Budgam succumbed to bullet injuries he suffered in an attack.
“Six others have been injured in attacks,” said a BJP functionary based in Kashmir.
While a number of Sarpanchs and block development council (BDC) officials have been provided accommodation away from their home districts and villages, local BJP leaders believe there is a need to consider construction of safe houses at district headquarters where their families can be housed as well.
“When the panchayat member of the BDC visit their homes they become sitting ducks for terrorists. There is no doubt that the number of panchayat representatives runs into thousands, and providing security will be difficult; but some steps have to be taken to assure the workers who have opted to work for the development of the people,” said the Kashmir-based BJP functionaryquoted above.
Killing of political workers in the Valley started soon after the eruption of terrorism in the former state in the late-1990s. The National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party claim to have lost hundreds of party workers to terror attacks over the past three decades.
Hina Bhatt, who contested the 2014 general elections on a BJP ticket and is currently the vice chairperson of the Khadi Village Industries Board, said political party workers on the ground are a “soft target” and their killing is used to send a message to discourage others from joining the political mainstream.
“When the NC and the PDP were in power, their workers and functionaries were targeted; now it is the BJP workers who are being attacked. A lot of people in the Valley are joining the BJP, which is a setback for the terror groups,” she said.
The increase in attacks against political workers, Bhatt said, is also retaliation against a crackdown on terrorists in the Valley. “In the last one year so many terrorists have been killed, so this is the easiest way to demoralise those who support the government and party workers.”