Sheikh Wasim Bari, along with his father and brother, were shot dead by militants. The attack comes at a time when political leaders are being increasingly targeted in India-administered Kashmir.
Three militants shot and killed Sheikh Wasim Bari, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on Wednesday in the Bandipore district of India-administered Kashmir. Bari's father and brother were also killed in the attack.
Bari and his family were sitting outside a shop close to a police station when militants on a motorcycle shot them.
Bari had previously held the post of the president of Bandipore for the BJP. His father was a senior leader of the BJP.
Ravinder Raina, the president of the BJP in the region of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), blamed "terrorists from Pakistan" for the attack.
The Inspector-General of Police in Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, said that the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a terrorist group, was behind the attack.
“Two militants involved in the attack have been identified. They are Abid, a local, and a foreigner terrorist from Pakistan. It was a pre-planned attack of the LeT,” said Kumar.
However, The Resistance Front (TRF), a new militant group, claimed responsibility for the attack and warned of more attacks. This claim was not confirmed by the administration or police.
The region of J&K is currently under direct central government control after the state was declared a union territory. India removed Kashmir's special autonomous status from its constitution with a presidential decree in 2019.
Attack condemned by political parties
Bari had eight security guards, who were not present to protect him when the attack happened. The guards were suspended and the local police said that their services "will be terminated".
Major regional parties of J&K, including the National Conference (NC) and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) condemned the attack. Former chief minister of J&K, Omar Abdullah, said that the "violent targeting of mainstream political workers continues unabated."
Dr. Jitendra Singh, a minister of state said that India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, had enquired about Bari's killing and extended his condolences to his family. Modi is the leader of the BJP, the ruling party of India.
This is the second attack on a leader in India-administered Kashmir in two months.
In June, Ajay Pandita, a sarpanch (village chief) and member of the Congress party, belonging to the Kashmiri Pandit community, was shot dead by militants in the district of Anantnag.