Ghulam Nabi Patel: Disputed in death?

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by Tahir Bhat

SRINAGAR: The unionists on Wednesday created a spectacle when they refused to own a man, the day he was assassinated. Ghulam Nabi Patel had given nearly four decades of his life to their politics but when militants mowed him down he had an identity crisis in his death. PDP said he belongs to Congress and Congress said he was from PDP.

Ghulam Nabi Patel

Patel was killed in his private car in the main Chowk of Rajpora. He had gone there from his Pulwama station where he has been living in a government accommodation for most of the last thirty years. Both his personal security officer (PSO) were injured in the attack and survived with injuries.

Patel was a resident of Dangerpora village in Shadimarg belt of Pulwama.

Police said Ghulam Nabi Patel 58-year-old was travelling in his Scorpio SUV when he was shot at by militants at Rajpora Chowk. Patel died while being taken to the hospital.

Patel has been an interesting character in Pulwama’s political landscape. He was not a Patel. It was his association with Ahmad Patel that gave him this nickname which eventually became his identity. Though basically from Congress, he would follow Mufti Mohammad Sayeed during his Janta Dal days. Even after he became Chief Minister, Patel would be hanging around despite being part of the Congress.

Patel was worked in state health department as a medical assistant before joining politics. Patel had also contested assembly elections. There are rumours that Patel was seen with BJP leaders as well in recent days.

During the incident, the two PSOs identified as Imtiyaz Ahmad Zargar and Bilal Ahmad Mir who also sustained bullet injuries were shifted to the hospital for the treatment. Police said they have registered and investigations have been taken up.

Police had initially said that Patel was an activist of the ruling Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). However, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti identified him as a Congress leader. “Heartfelt condolences to the family of senior Congress leader, GN Patel who was killed by militants today in Rajpora. Such cowardly acts achieve nothing but leave one more family devastated,” said Mehbooba Mufti in a tweet.

Strongly condemning the gruesome killing of Senior PDP Activist Gulam Nabi Patel, the J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) Vice President Mohd Anwar Bhat expressed profound grief and sorrow over the killing of senior PDP activist of Pulwama and described the killing as highly shameful and dastardly act.

In a statement, Congress Vice President described the deceased as a well-known PDP Activist of Pulwama District and strongly condemned his killing. He said the killings, in any form, are highly condemnable and must be condemned by every section of the people.

While offering deepest condolences to the bereaved family of PDP Activist, Congress Vice President sympathized with them, urging upon the Govt to provide full compensation to them, he added

Relatives of Ghulam Nabi Patel wailing at his funeral.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Monga lashed out at the government for failing to ensure protection to protected persons and stressed that effective measure must be taken to ensure the safety of life and property of political persons and the general public. Patel Joined Congress for some time in 2008 then after he joined PDP, says senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Monga.

He said Patel was a good person and he always works for the people. He was not a primary member of our political party and had not held any position in the party.

Congress leader Salman Anees Soz taking to twitter wrote, “In a despicable attack, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Patel was shot dead in Rajpora, Kashmir. My deepest condolences to his family. His 2 PSOs are battling injuries. Please keep them in your prayers.”

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday criticized the Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for what he said disowning political activist Ghulam Nabi Patel who was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Rajpora area of Pulwama.

Taking to social networking site twitter Omar wrote “What terrible news to start the day with here. My heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased & prayers for the injured. Allah Jannat naseeb karay.”

“How tragic that Patel Sahib, a political worker assassinated by militants in Kashmir is being disowned by both the PDP & Congress. If neither party is willing to own him as one of their own let’s just call him an NC worker so his death is not in vain,” Omar added.

A vehicle of deceased political activist

In another tweet, Omar said, “Ghulam Nabi Patel is being denied the dignity of having been assassinated for belonging to a political party just so the PDP & Congress can lie to their workers to claim they aren’t at risk from militant bullets.”

On social networking sites, it becomes a public debate. Senior Journalist Nazir Masoodi taking to microblogging website, Twitter wrote “Political activist Ghulam Nabi Patel assassinated in Pulwama. After media reports said he was a PDP leader, PDP quickly sent a condolence message and described him a Congress leader. Congress says he had resigned from the party long back.Yeh kaun mara kis ka lahu gira?.”

“Tit for tat condemnation.Congress condemns the killing of ‘PDP activist’ after PDP condoles killing of ‘Congress activist’. Ghulam Nabi Patel is nobody’s martyr. If he was a separatist he would have died as a hero and owned by everyone in Kashmir,” Nazir wrote on Twitter.

Journalist Sreenivasan Jain taking to social networking site Twitter wrote: “In April last year when @szaffariqbal and I interviewed him, he said he was general secy of Pulwama district PDP.”

Former finance minister Dr Haseeb Drabu taking to social networking site twitter wrote “Gh Nabi Patel, senior citizen & seasoned political worker associated for 40 years with mainstream parties shot dead. Mindless. Painful. RIP!,”.

Questions being asked on the streets in Srinagar is that if the unionist camp cannot own a person who has worked with them for forty years, what will happen to the newcomers in politics. Does the disowning at the time of death is emerging a new trend in case of activists who are unable to make it to the power structure.

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