On April 10, just two days ahead of parliamentary elections, Chanderkant Sharma, 50, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader was shot dead along with his PSO by the militants inside Kishtwar hospital. Sharma was working as a medical assistant at the hospital.
According to different media reports, there were at least three militants involved in the act. The eyewitnesses while describing the sequence of the events said that two used the rear entrance to enter the hospital, and the third remained outside. The militants first opened fire at Kumar, who was standing in the crowded corridor outside the Out Patient Department (OPD) of the hospital, and then shot Sharma as he stepped outside his room.
At around 12.30 pm, unidentified assailants fired at Chandrakant Sharma and his bodyguard inside the district hospital in Kishtwar town. While his bodyguard Kumar was killed on the spot, the RSS leader was critically injured and therefore airlifted to the Government Medical College and Hospital in Jammu for specialized treatment but he succumbed to his injuries there.
The militants also took an AK-47, his PSO was carrying. Interestingly, the hospital shares a boundary wall with the Kishtwar police station.
Sharma was a 30-year-old RSS activist in the town. In the nineties, he was very active in the anti-militancy operations. He was also a member of the DodaBachaoAndolan- a voluntary group who were fighting militancy. It is said that Sharma had very close political connections. During the last BJP government, when LK Advani was deputy prime minister, it is said that Sharma got the moral support directly from him. There were many assassination attempts on his life before, at least twice which he survived till April 10.
This is the second political killing since November 1 when a BJP leader Anil Parihar and his brother Ajit Parihar were killed. Sharma was provided with additional security after the attack. The Kishtwar town is communally very sensitive area. Soon after, the incident internet was snapped and curfew was imposed. Also, the army was called which carried flag march in the township.
The killing was condemned by almost all the political parties. National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti also condemned the killing.
“Unequivocally condemn the brutal murder. There can be no place for targeting political operatives like this. I hope the residents of the area will cooperate with the administration and maintain calm,” said Mr. Abdullah.
Ms. Mufti said she sees the incident as “part of a bigger plan to incite communal tension”. “I urge the Governor to initiate a probe and appeal to people of Kishtwar to maintain peace and harmony,” she said.
– Umar Mukhtar