Slain BJP Youth Leader in J&K Had Begged Top Leaders For Security

Sources say Gowhar Bhat had asked top BJP leaders, including Rajnath Singh and Ram Madav, for security in vain.

6 min read
Hindi Female

Notwithstanding the BJP top brass, including President Amit Shah and National General Secretary Ram Madhav, trumpeting solidarity with the cadres on Twitter, expressing concern and sending condolences over the brutal killing of a young leader of their party in Kashmir, insiders revealed that the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) District President Gowhar Ahmad Bhat lost his life because of the government’s failure to provide him security cover.

In a harrowing disclosure, three of the BJP’s district presidents told The Quint that following serious threats from terrorists, Bhat had desperately beseeched his party’s senior leaders and ministers in Srinagar and Delhi to arrange for him some police protection.

There was no action on his requests until he was kidnapped and slaughtered like a sacrificial goat.

Thirty-year-old Gowhar Bhat was on Thursday, 2 November, kidnapped by unidentified men in close vicinity of his home in district headquarters of Shopian in southern Kashmir. In two hours, his brutally mutilated body was spotted at a distance of three miles. His throat was found slit with a sharp blade but investigators suspect a gunshot in his mouth might have snuffed out his life.

Even as the Jammu and Kashmir Police claim to have identified four terrorists – two each of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Hizbul Mujahideen – as the assassins, many of the leaders of the ruling BJP and its affiliate wings have virtually gone underground out of fear and threat to their life.

Shah and Madhav wasted no time to condemn their party’s first ever political assassination in Jammu and Kashmir.

Shah did not hold back his rhetoric for long.


Co-pilot of the BJP-PDP coalition in J&K, Madhav, expressed his anguish:

On Friday, 3 November, Madhav also reproduced the ANI images showing a multitude of residents attending Bhat’s funeral procession.

But who precisely is paying the price for “fight against terrorism” in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party? Leaders shuttling between New Delhi and Srinagar in chartered aeroplanes and doling out rhetorical statements? Or the completely insecure cadre whose pleas for protection appear to have fallen on deaf ears?

A district president of the BJP, insisting to be anonymous, said that a few days before his murder, Gowhar had in detail explained to the BJYM National President and MP Poonam Mahajan in Srinagar why he needed security. Gowhar had even met Ram Madhav at the state BJP’s working committee meeting in Srinagar and disclosed to him how he sensed a grave threat to his life, he added.

General Secretary (Organisation), Ashok Kaul, was also fully aware of the death hovering over Gowhar’s head. During Rajnath Singh’s recent visit, Gowhar shared his predicament with the Union Home Minister and senior officials. Everybody assured him that the J&K Police would be made to provide him adequate police protection. Not one constable was provided to him till he was eliminated.
BJP district president

‘Will Get Nothing Out of Their Tweets’

District President for Budgam, Ghulam Hassan Khan, however, has no hesitation to say on record: “We will not get anything out of their tweets. We need security, not their tweets. They just tweet condolences after our death and express solidarity with our families… We are not here for dying. We want to live and make India great with our life. But we won’t shirk from giving sacrifices either”.

Khan complained that there was “grave non-seriousness” in the BJP’s leadership in pushing the cadres’ demands of security with J&K Police. “We also feel that some anti-national elements in police and security agencies do some sabotage and make us vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Their loyalties are somewhere else,” Khan alleged.

According to Khan, only five of the BJP’s ten district presidents in Kashmir are protected, on account of having contested an election in the past. Even as district presidents of Srinagar (Fayaz Ahmad Bhat), Shopian (Javed Qadri), Anantnag (Rafeeq Wani) and Bandipora (Waseem Ahmad) have been allotted two Personal Security Officers (PSOs) each, none of them has been provided with a vehicle or secure accommodation. Only the district president of Anantnag has been given an accommodation and two PSOs. District Presidents Baramulla, DK Nehru, has been provided with one PSO and a room.


‘We Are Facing Inhuman Treatment’

A state-level office-bearer claimed that on recommendations of different politicians and police officers, including “fake threat perception certificates purchased from CID in the past”, more than 800 policemen had been provided to people who neither figure in any security category nor have any threat to their life.

Many of them are in fact anti-national elements promoting separatism, alienation and jihad and indulging in timber smuggling. They each have four to six armed guards, protected residences and vehicles from J&K Police.

BJP’s district presidents in Budgam (Ghulam Hassan Khan), Kupwara (Master Mohammad Jamal), Pulwama (Master Abdul Gani) and Ganderbal (Bashir Ahmad Bhat) have been hiding in their friends’ and relatives’ houses as none of them have been allotted PSOs, escort, static house guard or a vehicle from respective district police or security wing of the J&K Police.

“This is an irony that the BJP is a ruling party in Srinagar as well as at the Centre, but we are facing inhuman treatment. Our applications and requests are consigned to dustbin but PSOs, vehicles and house guards are provided to even the non-functional workers of other parties including the Congress, National Conference and Hurriyat Conference,” Khan asserted.

Asked if he could substantiate his allegation, Khan said police officers rushed with vehicles, PSOs and house guards to two ordinary workers of the opposition National Conference in Chadoura area minutes after they were declared as office-bearers at district level.

“I know one Abdullah Haji who used to be a district vice president of the Congress in the past. He is nothing today. Still, he and his contractor brother have been allotted 3-room accommodations at Hotel Heevan, two PSOs each and house guards at Sonwar (Srinagar),” Khan said.


‘We Are Treated Like Third Class Citizens’

He added that those who do not do any mainstream political activity, and those who sing songs for militants, Pakistan and Hurriyat and those who openly indulge in anti-national campaigns are the “most protected”.

They get PSOs, bullet-proof vehicles and government accommodation on just one call. Contrarily, we give our blood for India but we are treated like class three citizens. There’s already a strong impression that whoever sides with India will be killed one day.
Ghulam Hassan Khan

The state BJP leaders said that almost all the 10 district coordinators (Prabharis), all the 10 BJYM district presidents, besides district and province level heads and office-bearers of BJP’s affiliate wings – Mahila Wing, Minority Morcha, OBC Wing, Kisan Morcha and Urban Local Body and Panchayati Raj Wing – were without police protection, vehicle and house guards.

Even the BJP’s provincial heads of protocol and media and many of the state-level office-bearers have no security, vehicle or accommodation. Same is the case with 46 mandal pradhans (constituency presidents).

In each district, the BJP’s parent and affiliate wings have 20 office-bearers and in each Assembly segment 16.

Khan said Congress party’s president in his Budgam district, Zahid Hussain Jan, had been provided with four armed PSOs, one government vehicle and 3-room protected accommodation in Tulsi Bagh (Srinagar).

“But he is superior to me by one advantage. He is brother-in-law to the brother-in-law of a senior Congress leader,” he said.

Nobody in Jammu and Kashmir Police and its security wing agreed to say anything on record, pleading invariably that it was a “sensitive matter”. However, a middle-rank officer, who is not authorised to speak to media, maintained that security and protected accommodation was being provided to political leaders “as per their respective threat perception”.


“Security Review Coordination Committee under Additional Director General of Police (Security) meets once in six months for periodic review. Protected persons are placed under different categories and accordingly allotted PSOs, vehicles, accommodation etcetera. In case of the highest ‘Z’ category, we review requirements every month,” said the officer while claiming that there was no requisition pending with security wing.

The officer elaborated that 60 percent PSOs to the protected politicians were being provided by respective district police and only 40 percent from security wing.

He asserted that only the senior-most police officers could speak on the lack of coordination, if any, between different wings of police in the matter of providing security to political activists.

BJP’s state President Sat Pal Sharma while speaking to The Quint from Shimla said that Gowhar Bhat's killers would be brought to justice “very soon”.

“We will take up at the highest level the issue of making BJP leaders of Kashmir secure. I will be meeting with Chief Minister, Deputy CM, DGP and others in this connection immediately after returning to Jammu. Government will reassess threat perception of all BJP leaders and leave no stone unturned in making them secure,” Sharma said.

(The writer is a Srinagar-based journalist. He can be reached @ahmedalifayyaz.)

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