by Tasavur Mushtaq
SRINAGAR: Panic gripped the Muslimabad locality of Bandipora district Wednesday late evening after they heard multiple rounds of gunshots. Scared, moments later, it was confirmed to be an attack on the local leader of Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and his father and brother, also known to be workers of different right-wing affiliates.
Identified as Sheikh Waseem Bari 38, he was attacked along with his father, Bashir Ahmad 60, and brother, Umar Bari 30 by suspected militants outside their residence in Muslimabad.
Critically wounded, the hospital sources said they were declared dead on the arrival.
We lost Sheikh Waseem Bari,his father & brother in Bandipora, J&K today in a cowardly attack on them.This is a huge loss for the party. My deepest condolences are with the family.The entire Party stands with the bereaved family. I assure that their sacrifice will not go in vain.
— Jagat Prakash Nadda (@JPNadda) July 8, 2020
In a video released to media, Bashir Ahmad, chief medical officer Bandipora said “the post-mortem examination has been completed and so have the legal formalities. We have handed the bodies to police now,” he added. “almost all the firearms injuries are in the head area.”
As per the police sources, a huge contingent of forces personnel has cordoned off the entire area and searches are being carried out to try and nab the attackers.
Confirming the attack, Jammu and Kashmir Police took to Twitter to break the news, “Terrorists fired on BJP worker Wasim Bari at Bandipora. During indiscriminate firing Wasim Bari, his father Bashir Ahmad, and brother Umer Bashir got injured and shifted to hospital, but all three succumbed to their injuries,” J&K Police tweeted.
J&K Police DGP Dilbag Singh said the militants opened fire at Waseem outside his shop at around 9 pm. Singh was quoted by news agency ANI as saying the family had an eight-member security attachment but “unfortunately, none of them was kept at the time of the incident”.
Waseem, as per the reports was living in an area with a significant presence of personal security. With few high profile offices in the area, reportedly the local police station is located just opposite to his house and nearby shop. Waseem at the time of the attack was on his nearby shop along with his brother and father.
Guarded by 8-10 security personnel, none of them was present when the gunmen attacked. As reports emerging from the area suggest, guards supposed to protect him were sitting on the first floor of Bari’s house, which is adjacent to the shop. The family has a shop as part of their residence.
Quoting a senior officer, a local news agency said the family had eight security personnel but as the house and shop are together, the PSOs were allowed to sit on the first floor.
Acting after the attack, the police have arrested PSOs detailed to guard slain Waseem and his family for dereliction of duty. “All the ten PSOs have been arrested, said IGP Kashmir zone Vijay Kumar.
So far no militant outfit has staked the claim for the attack.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a late-night telephone call sought details and extended condolences to the family. “Over the telephone, PM @narendramodi enquired about the gruesome killing of Wasim Bari. He also extended condolences to the family of Wasim,” Union minister Jitendra Singh tweeted.
Singh also condemned the attack, “Terribly shaken by this brutal attack by desperately disgruntled terrorists looking for soft targets. Kashmir, district Bandipora BJP President Wasim Bari, his father, and brother, no more,” Singh tweeted.
Condemning the cowardly attack on his party leader, BJP president JP Nadda said that the entire party was with Bari’s family at this time of grief. “We lost Sheikh Waseem Bari, his father & brother in Bandipora, J&K today in a cowardly attack on them. This is a huge loss for the party. My deepest condolences are with the family. The entire Party stands with the bereaved family. I assure that their sacrifice will not go in vain,” Nadda said in his tweet.
Another senior BJP leader, Ram Madhav has said he is shocked by the killing.”Shocked and saddened by the killing of young BJP leader Wasim Bari and his brother by terrorists in Bandipora. This despite 8 security commandos. Condolences to the family,” Madhav tweeted, noting that Waseem’s father was also a BJP “senior leader”.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to condemn the incident. “Sorry to hear about the murderous terror attack on the BJP functionaries & their father in Bandipore earlier this evening. I condemn the attack. My condolences to their families in this time of grief. Sadly the violent targeting of mainstream political workers continues unabated.”
Iltiija Mufti, while taking on to the Twitter handle of her mother Mehbooba Mufti condemned the attack. “Cycle of violence in Kashmir continues to claim lives. Deepest condolences to his family.”
Congress president for J&K, Ghulam Ahmad Mir also condemned the killing, “Condemned the attack on @bjp4jnk leader Wasim Bari and his family members. The congress party expressed anguish over this highly deplorable act and demanded exemplary punishment to killers.”
#Terrorists fired upon BJP worker Wasim Bari at #Bandipora. During indiscrimnate firing Wasim Bari, his father Bashir Ahmad and his brother Umer Bashir got injured and shifted to hospital but unfortunately all the three #succumbed to their injuries. @JmuKmrPolice
— Kashmir Zone Police (@KashmirPolice) July 8, 2020
Another Congress leader Salman Nizami questioned the “achievements” of BJP in Kashmir post on August 5, 2019. “BJP leader, his father, brother killed in Kashmir today. What has BJP achieved by revoking Article 370 in Kashmir except for bloodbath? Let’s be together & establish peace. I appeal BJP to stop militaristic policy which is backfiring. Save Kashmir!”, he wrote on Twitter.
Who was Waseem Bari?
Sheikh Waseem Bari, a senior leader and state executive member Jammu & Kashmir, was currently “in charge department of training” Kashmir. With different reports emerging, some suggesting he was also district president of BJP for Bandipora. In their condemnations, the BJP leaders mainly called him “young BJP leader”.
In a recent video, which has gone viral on social media, Waseem, purportedly in a presser, was referring to another person saying that “in BJP, he is a district president, but for us, he is a deputy commissioner,” adding “district development commissioner Ganderbal is not giving respect to the leaders of BJP. “aisa na ho mujhe high command se fir baat karni padhegi (I would talk to party high command) Jo ye chaheinge jo b inka genuine kaam hoga, wo priority basis pe hona chahiye.(Whatever he wishes and whatever genuine work he would have that should be given the priority.”
The new assignment to slain Waseem was given recently. In his video message shared on his Facebook, he has said: “I express gratitude to my party high command for reposing faith in me and assigning the responsibility of Kashmir as Incharge Kashmir of Department of Training.”
Reiterating his commitment to expanding the footprints of BJP in Kashmir, he has said “I would like to thanks all my well-wishers for their overwhelming love and support. I am Committed to deliver my best for the expansion of the party through nationalist forces in the valley.”
He had also said that “in next elections, BJP would get 20-25 seats from Kashmir and he would ensure the party gets stronger in Kashmir.”
On Monday, July 6, two days before his killing, Waseem celebrated the 119th birth anniversary of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. In a video shared on his Facebook, Waseem while remembering Mukherjee highlighted the importance of ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’
During his stint in BJP, he was also general secretary, north Kashmir and grievance cell in charge for Bandipora.