Militant attacks create fear among Modi’s BJP in Indian Kashmir

By Shah Abbas

Srinagar, India, Aug 10 (efe-epa).- Abdul Hameed on Monday became the fifth member of India’s ruling right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to be killed by militants in a month in Indian Kashmir, causing much fear among party members and leading many to resign.

Hameed was wounded after being shot by militants while out on a morning walk on Sunday in Budgam, in central Kashmir, an official from the Police Control Room told EFE under anonymity.

The BJP office bearer was rushed to a hospital in Srinagar, the most important city in the region, where he succumbed to his injuries around 24 hours later.

Attacks on people associated with Prime Minister Narendara Modi’s BJP have increased in recent weeks, and caused many party members in Kashmir to resign out of fear.

Last month, militants shot dead Wasim Bari and his father and younger brother at their shop in Bandipora district, some 75 km (nearly 45 miles) north of Srinagar.

Bari and his family members were associated with the BJP and were among the most vocal supporters of the government’s Kashmir policies.

On Aug. 4, militants shot and injured another BJP office bearer named Arif in Qazigund in southern Kashmir, and two days later, a similar attack on another party worker resulted in his death in the same locality.

Consequently, several rattled BJP members gave up their party affiliation, and shared their resignations on social media, and also apologized for joining the political group.

BJP spokesperson in Kashmir, Altaf Thokar, told EFE that they have information of around 10 people leaving the party, and attributed the trend to “panic among some junior party workers.”

Taking into account the vulnerability of BJP members to militant attacks, the authorities have begun shifting several of them to safer areas within the region.

“On our request, the police have shifted around 170 BJP workers and office bearers to safer zones in Srinagar and south and north Kashmir,” Altaf said, adding that those remaining would also be shifted soon.

A senior political analyst, who asked not to be named, told EFE that a part of the reason for people stepping down so readily was that the BJP was not a “cadre based party in the Muslim majority Kashmir” and they had mostly joined “to get personal benefits.”

The idyllic Himalayan region of Kashmir has been a disputed region since 1947 when India and Pakistan won their freedom from British rule.

The two countries, which have fought three wars, including two over Kashmir, claim the divided territory in its entirety but rule its parts.

Kashmir has been battling an armed rebellion against Indian rule since 1989. Over 70,000 people have been killed in the three decades of the bloody conflict, according to activists.

The Indian government last year stripped the Muslim-majority region of its special autonomous status ostensibly to bring development to the region that has face decades of militancy.

Since then, a fresh wave of resentment has built up in the region, which is now directly administered by the central government at New Delhi.

Last week, senior BJP leader Manoj Sinha was appointed as the Lieutenant Governor to head the local administration in Kashmir.

Indian forces have intensified operations against the insurgents in Indian Kashmir amid the Covid-19 lockdown since the restrictions began on Mar. 25. EFE-EPA

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