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Militants claim killing panchayat member in Kashmir who went missing last week

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Militants in an audio message claimed to have killed a panchayat member from South Kashmir’s Khanmoh village who has been missing since August 9, police said.

Panchayat member Nisar Ahmad Bhat went missing from Shopian and police have been trying to trace him.

A senior police officer said that according to family members, Bhat went to Shopian on Wednesday. “Since then he has been missing. He (panch) was booked under PSA in 1995. There are 12 FIR against him and efforts are on to trace him.”

The officer, however, said the audio clip seems fake. “We are investigating every aspect of this case.”

In a 2.56 minute long message purportedly released by militants, they claimed that Bhat has been killed and buried at an unidentified place.

An unidentified person is heard saying that the panchayat member 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 message claimed that the body wasn’t 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. The same way, Indian forces after killing our comrades bury them at 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 and his burnt vehicle was found later. Soon after the abduction, police and army had launched a search operation in Shopian and Kulgam areas. However, the jawan could not be traced.

A similar message was released which claimed 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 BDC members, majority of them from the BJP, to safer places after an evaluation of threats from militants.

Soon after taking charge, Jammu and Kashmir’s new Lt 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.

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