Pandit’s murder in Tral exposes chink in J&K security’s armour

Friday, 04 June 2021 | Mohit Kandhari | Jammu

The “merciless” killing of another Kashmiri Pandit, councillor Rakesh Pandita, in Tral area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district late on Wednesday has once again exposed the glaring loopholes in the security apparatus extended to the grassroots workers in the Kashmir valley. 

Pandita’s family has demanded a high-level probe by a national investigation agency to piece together the sequence of events preceding the targeted killing of the sole bread earner of his family.

Pandita leaves behind an ailing mother, a specially-abled brother who was totally dependent on him for all his basic needs, including medicine and daily chores, his son Paras, who is a Class 12 student, wife and a sister. 

Despite improvement in the overall security scenario in the entire J&k, the cycle of violence against the Kashmiri minorities and targeted killing of political workers have not ended.

Almost a year ago, sarpanch Ajay Bharti was killed by the terrorists in Anantnag area on June 8, 2020. Several other BJP leaders and their close family members also were killed by the terrorists.

Aakash Mehra, son of a famous Krishna dhaba owner, fell to the bullets of terrorists 11 days after he was shot at in a high security zone of Sonwar. He succumbed on February 28 in a Srinagar hospital.

Before him, a famous jeweller Satpal Nischal from Punjab, settled in Srinagar for several years, was killed from a close range in the first week of January 2021.

After performing the last rites of his father in Jammu, Paras, son of Rakesh Pandita indicated that his father may have walked into a trap and ended up losing his life.

Paras said, “My father called us late in the evening. He may have sensed something was wrong. That’s why we are demanding a high level probe to unravel the conspiracy, if any, behind his targeted killing”.

Paras said he went to Tral, only two weeks after the death of my grandfather. He stood for development of his birthplace and was passionate about his work. He was not discriminating with anyone. I want to know “who killed him and what was his fault?”

His wife, Ruby, weeping inconsolably, demanded severest punishment to the killers of her husband. “I want those responsible for the killing of my husband should also be killed”

Media reports claimed a lesser known terror outfit People’s Anti-Fascist Front had claimed responsibility for the targeted killing of a BJP councillor.

Soon after the targeted killing of Pandita, a BJP leader, the Jammu and Kashmir police also issued a statement clarifying both the PSOs deployed for security duty of Pandita were not accompanying him at the time of the incident. The police also claimed he was accommodated in a secure location. So the question arises under what circumstances Pandita was permitted to proceed towards Tral, a militancy infested area, late Wednesday evening without his PSOs.  The police are also investigating the leads in the case. They are trying to ascertain whether any one leaked information about his movement late in the evening in the Tral area.

The last rites of Pandita were performed in Jammu. Senior BJP leaders and J&k Unit Chief Ravinder Raina, party MP Jugal Kishore Sharma, former Deputy CM Kavinder Gupta among others attended the cremation ceremony and also visited his residence to offer their condolences to the bereaved family.

Meanwhile, close family members and community members appealed to the J&k Government to announce a compensation package for the family of Pandita.

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