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Friday, June 25, 2021

Why did slain BJP leader Rakesh Pandita lie to his police guards? Woman who was injured in Tral attack may have answers

BJP leader Rakesh Pandita, who was killed by militants believed to be from Jaish-1-Muhammad last week, had told his personal security guards that he was still in Jammu on the day he was shot dead in Tral town of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

A police official said investigators are trying to find out the reason behind Pandita’s regular visits to Tral over the past one and a half years.

The official said investigators did not suspect any foul play by the personal security guards of the deceased leader as “they were not even aware of Pandita’s presence in Kashmir, let alone Tral”.

“He (Pandita) had told the PSOs over the phone that he was still in Jammu,” the official added.

Pandita, a BJP councillor, was shot dead and a woman, accompanying him, was injured by militants owing allegiance to Jaish-e-Mohammed on June 2 in Tral.

The official said so far 20 persons have been questioned in connection with the killing of Pandita but no formal arrests have been made yet.

He said investigators also want to question the 22-year-old woman, who was injured in the firing by the militants but have to wait till she comes out of the hospital. Her brother who was not in his home at the time of the attack has also been thoroughly questioned by the police

“We are working on all angles and everyone connected with the deceased is being probed. Even the family which was hosting the victim on the day of the incident is being questioned,” the official said.

A police handout released after the incident said Pandita, who was a protected person, had defied the Standard Operating Procedure and went to the village without his personal security officers.

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