Panchayat Member Shot Dead, Voters Beaten Up In Kashmir

9 May 2014
Times of India
M Saleem Pandit

Srinagar: A day after the last phase of Lok Sabha elections in Kashmir, militants shot dead a National Conference panchayat member and separatist youth beat up those who voted during the polls. Police said unidentified gunmen fired on the National Conference panch Gul Mohammad Bhat of Wanpoh in Kulgam near a shop, late Thursday night. 'He had received two bullets in his chest and due to the gravity of the injury we referred him to Srinagar,' a doctor who attended Gul said. The panch was injured critically. He succumbed to his injuries at SMHS, police said. National Conference spokesman Junaid Mattu said that the party condemned the assassination of the panchayat member. Mattu said that Gul Mohammad Bhat was a political worker and activist who belonged to the J&K National Conference. 'Bhat was over 60-year-old. He has been killed for his beliefs. He has been killed by cowards in an act of sheer barbarism. The party stands with the family of the deceased in this hour of grief and loss.' All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC), the frontline organization of elected panches and sarpanches on Friday demanded setting up of a judicial commission to unmask the killers who are selectively targeting the panchayat members of the state. Anil Sharma, President All Jammu and Kashmir Conference said that Bhat was the 9th panchayat member who has been killed ever since the panchayat elections in the state. The AJKPC president accused the state government of being incompetent. He said the chief minister had not only failed to protect the lives of the panchayat members but his government also failed to arrest the killers who are roaming free and mercilessly killing the elected representatives. Meanwhile, several people who had cast their vote on Wednesday were beaten up and stripped by masked youth in Sopore and Baramulla. The Baramulla-Kupwara segment went to polls in the last phase of elections on Wednesday, recording an overall voter turnout of 39 percent. Armed with lathis (batons), witnesses said, a group of youth appeared at Azad Gunj, Cement Bridge and Tawheed Gunj in old town Baramulla and stopped many vehicles coming from areas which recorded a higher voter turnout on May 7 polls. The youth frisked every vehicle and got the commuters down from public mini-buses and checked their index fingers for voting ink mark. Any male or female with the ink mark was thrashed by the youth, local reports said. Police tried to disperse the youth by using tear gas shells. Chief minister Omar Abdullah on Friday said that stern action will be taken against those who terrorized voters. 'Can't have freedom to choose not to vote without allowing people who want to vote a similar choice', Omar tweeted on Friday. Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) and pro-Pakistan Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani appealed to the youth not to resort to violence against those who voted in the elections. 'I have information that angry youth are thrashing and beating the people who voted in the recent elections,' Geelani said. 'My humble appeal to the youth is not to beat anyone on this issue,' Geelani said in a video message circulated to media here. 'We all are like brothers of a family so nobody should beat any of his brothers,' Geelani appealed and said, 'The election phase is over and we should get united against the military rule of India, so no beating in the name of elections.'