August 2020 News

Kashmir Panchayat Member Untraceable, Terrorists Claim They Killed Him

24 August 2020
The Hindustan Times

Srinagar: Police have not been able to trace panchayat member Nisar Ahmad Bhat who went missing from Shopian in south Kashmir on August 19. Meanwhile, in an audio message, terrorists have claimed to have killed Bhat, police said. A senior police officer said that according to Bhat's family, he had gone to Shopian on Wednesday. 'He has been missing since. He (Bhat) was booked under PSA in 1995. There are 12 FIR against him and efforts are on to trace him,' the officer said. The officer also said that the audio clip seems fake. 'We are investigating every aspect of this case.' The 2.56-minute message, purportedly released by terrorists, claimed that Bhat had been killed and buried at an unidentified place. In the clip, an unidentified person can be heard saying that Bhat was involved in 'anti-movement activities' and had met his fate. 'We have been after him for a long time and finally got him,' the person said in the clip. The message claimed that the body hadn't been handed over to his family because of Covid-19. 'We understand the pain of the family. To avoid the spread of Covid-19, the body wasn't given to his family. Just as the Indian forces, after killing our comrades, bury them in unmarked graves at unidentified locations,' the message said. Earlier, on August 2, Shakir Manzoor, who was working with 162 Territorial Army battalion in south Kashmir, was abducted from Kulgam district. His burnt vehicle was found later. The jawan could not be traced despite a search operation by army and the police in Shopian and Kulgam areas. A similar message was released later, claiming that Manzoor was killed and buried at an undisclosed location. In the last two months, five BJP leaders, including two sarpanches, have been killed in different parts of Kashmir. Earlier in July, Congress sarpanch Ajay Pandita was killed in Anantnag district which forced many panchayat members to resign from their parties. The government also shifted dozens of panchayat members and block development council (BDC) members, majority of them from the BJP, to safer places after an evaluation of threats from terrorists. Soon after taking charge, Jammu and Kashmir's new Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had said adequate security would be provided to panchayat members and political workers in Kashmir. Sinha was speaking at a function in Srinagar in which a large number of panchayat workers participated and demanded security in the backdrop of attacks on BJP workers in different parts of the Valley.