Srinagar, India, July 9 (efe-epa).- Suspected militants have shot dead a local leader of India’s ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and two of his family members in the troubled region of Kashmir, police said Thursday.
The shooting took place late Wednesday when gunmen riding a motorbike opened fire on Wasim Bari, 38, his father and younger brother at their shop in Bandipora district, some 75 km (nearly 45 miles) north of the main city of Srinagar.
“During the indiscriminate firing, Wasim (Bari), his father Bashir Ahmad and his brother Umar Bashir got injured and were shifted to a hospital, where they succumbed to their injuries,” a police officer, who asked not to be named, told EFE.
A doctor at the hospital told EFE that “the trio had received bullets in their heads.”
Witnesses and local sources told EFE that the incident took place just a few meters away from the local police station.
A police official told EFE that although Bari’s family was under police protection, none of the eight personnel deployed for their security were escorting them at the time of the incident.
Consequently, all the personnel security officers of the BJP leader have been detained for interrogation.
“At the time of the attack, the cops were sitting on the first floor of the building that houses the family and the shop,” the official told EFE on condition of anonymity.
Bari’s wife and sister are the only surviving members of the family.
Bari and his family members were associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP and were among the most vocal supporters of the government’s Kashmir policies.
“We lost Sheikh Waseem Bari, his father and brother in Bandipora in a cowardly attack on them. This is a huge loss for the party. My deepest condolences are with the family. The party stands with the bereaved family. I assure (you) that their sacrifice will not go in vain,” BJP president JP Nadda tweeted.
The incident occurred on a day when the authorities had tightened security in the region on the fourth death anniversary of a popular local militant commander, Burhan Wani, who was gunned down by security forces in 2016.
Wani’s killing triggered the widespread street protests in Kashmir that left more than 100 civilians dead in the months of violent civil unrest.
Indian forces have intensified operations against the insurgents in Indian Kashmir amid the Covid-19 lockdown since the restrictions began on Mar. 25.
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. EFE-EPA