SRINAGAR: Days after
sarpanch Ajay Pandita was shot dead by the Lashkar-backed TRF, a video has surfaced showing a
woman panchayat head
from south Kashmir's Sopore purportedly pleading for her life in front of a suspected
Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist
and offering to reason.
said on Monday that police were trying to verify the authenticity of the
in which 49-year-old Gulshan Begum, the sarpanch of Sempora VII in Rashidabad, is seen seeking "forgiveness" from someone standing outside the frame. A male voice can be heard retorting that the only reason to spare her was because she was a woman old enough to be his mother.
The banned Hizbul Mujahideen possibly suspected Gulshan Begum of being a police informer, sources said.
At one point in the video, the sarpanch is heard saying: "I have the SP and the SHO's phone numbers on my contacts list only because some people had been harassing me lately. Please forgive me for the sake of the Prophet. I am a poor woman. Please spare me. I will resign."
TOI found Gulshan Begum's mobile phone switched off throughout the day. Sources in Rashidabad said she and her husband, Lateef Sofi, went into hiding on Saturday and were incommunicado since.
Panchayat functionaries across the Valley, especially in south Kashmir, have been bracing for a fresh terrorist backlash ever since Pandita, the sarpanch of Dooru in Anantnag district and a prominent
voice, was killed by TRF terrorists on June 8. Speculation is rife that Pandita, who had not been targeted even during the peak of violence in Kashmir, was killed primarily because the TRP wanted to send out the message that any attempt to resettle West Pakistan refugees and the Valmiki community under the new domicile law would be met with bullets.
Pandita was the 19 panchayat member to be shot dead since the first rural polls in 30 years were held in J&K in 2011.
When panchayat elections were held again in November 2018, more than 60 per cent of the 20,000-odd seats remained vacant because there was no candidate.
's PDP and
's NC boycotted the polls over the issue of Kashmir's now-defunct special status.