Municipal Councillor, SPO martyred in Sopore terror attack

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Another Councillor injured; 4 cops suspended

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU: In a broad daylight strike on Monday, one of the BJP’s councillors has been shot dead and another left injured, even as one Special Police Officer on duty also laid down his life. This is the first terrorist attack in which a municipal councillor has been killed after the Urban Local Body elections in October 2018.
Official sources said that terrorists of Lashkar-e-Taiba, operating under the banner of The Resistance Front (TRF) appeared at the office of Municipal Council Sopore at a private building on outskirts of Sopore town on the road to Kupwara at 1310 hours and fired upon the councillors who were holding a meeting. One councillor, Riyaz Ahmad Peer, got killed and another councillor Shamsuddin Peer sustained injuries.
One of the security personnel, who was identified as SPO Shafqat and was on duty outside was also gunned down. The attackers made good their escape.
IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar, who visited the spot, said that one of two terrorists who carried out the attack has been identified as Mudassar Pandit of Sopore. Another, according to him, was a Pakistani cadre of LeT. IGP said that the Police and security forces have launched a manhunt to track down the assassins and bring them to justice “very soon”.
On account of “poor and inappropriate response”, four personnel of J&K Police have been placed under suspension on IGP’s direction. “Had they acted as per the SOPs, both the terrorists would have been shot dead on the spot.
The residents of Sopore said that Riyaz Ahmad Peer had contested the ULB election as an independent candidate like his wife and father-in-law Shamsuddin Peer. All the three were elected uncontested as nobody filed nomination against them.
Executive Officer of Municipal Council Sopore Sameer Ahmad told STATE TIMES that about 18 councillors were in the thick of the meeting at around 1.15 pm when a gunman fired through partly glazed panel of the meeting hall’s door. “It didn’t seem to be the target firing. He fired two or three shots. Riyaz Ahmad Peer bled profusely as we could not evacuate him for over 10 minutes and he died. His father-in-law sustained a gunshot injury but survived”, the Executive Officer said.
“The attack happened when we had completed 20 minutes of the meeting. We spotted someone firing through the door’s partly glazed panel. Thereafter we heard gunshots for about 10 minutes outside. We don’t know whether it was a covering firing to the terrorist trying to escape or retaliation from the PSOs out on the premises”, the Executive Officer said.
The Executive Officer said that there was no security arrangement other than the presence of two PSOs of one councillor and 3 PSOs of another councillor. One of them was killed in the terror attack. Remaining four have been placed under suspension.

Sameer Ahmad said that Riyaz Ahmad Peer, his wife and Shamsuddin Peer were close to the former Chairman Abdul Ahad Malla who was a councillor with affiliation to BJP. However, they had not got themselves marked as BJP’s regular members or councillors of that party.
Currently Sopore Municipal Council is headless as the forenoon Chairman Abdul Ahad Malla has been removed in a no-confidence motion. According to the residents, he filed a petition in a court which failed.
TRF claimed responsibility of the attack and threatened more of such attacks on the councillors.