Barely few hours after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) senior leaders and Kashmir unit condemned the killing of 25-year-old Arif Maqbool Sofi in Sopore and called him an ‘active party worker’, the family of slain youth denied any links with the saffron party, calling the party ‘anti-Kashmir and anti-movement’.
Arif Maqbool Sofi son of Mohammad Maqbool Sofi a resident of Wahipora area of Unisoo village was shot dead by unknown armed men on Wednesday evening at Harwan Tujjar area in Sopore. Mohammad Maqbool Sofi is the former chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples league – a constituent party of Hurriyat conference.
“We condemn such baseless statements by BJP. He wasn’t associated with any political party. Our father has been the Chairman J&K Peoples League. How can we join hands with anti movement party? It is baseless news,” said Imtiyaz Maqbool, brother of slain youth.
“They want Kashmiri brethren to fight with each other. They want to defame us. We will hold a press conference tomorrow and expose them”, he added
Bharatiya Janata Party Thursday in a statement issued to media said “Pained to learn about the brutal murder of our worker in Sopore. Our deepest condolences to his family. Terrorists must realise that they cannot stop the youth of the valley from choosing a better future for themselves”.
BJP state Spokesperson who issued the statement, however, said he does not know of “Arif being our worker’ personally. It is impossible for me to remember all members of party.
“It has been confirmed to me by one of our constituency head. For me he is the authority. Arif used to come to our party meetings and that’s the proof he was our worker”, said Altaf Thakur State spokesperson of BJP
When asked if there was any video or pictorial proof of the meetings slain Arif had attended, the spokesperson asked to contact Sopore constituency head of BJP who ‘confirmed the news’ to him. But when asked Arif’s village, Unisoo belonged to Handwara constituency, BJP Spokesperson said “both villages are in same district”.
When contacted the Sopore constituency head of BJP about the proof of Arif being BJP worker he said Arif would not allow being photographed.
“He attended almost 5 or 6 meetings of BJP but he would never let us click pictures saying it would be problem for him”, said Farooq Ahmed BJP’s Sopore constituency head who recently claimed his house was set ablaze ‘for being a BJP worker’.
Reacting to this, Imtiyaz Maqbool Sofi brother of slain youth said, “This is height of shamelessness. My brother would not even like to talk about BJP, how he would attend the party meets”.
Reportedly, the family has planned a press briefing on Friday after congregational prayers to ‘deny and expose BJP’, a family member said.
Mohammad Maqbool Sofi father of Arif Maqbool was appointed as Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples League after the alleged custodial killing of Sheikh Hameed by government forces in 1998. Maqbool has spent 12 years in various jails of Kashmir and outside.
Besides working as medical representative, Arif used to drive a Maruti Eco from his native village to Sopore to earn his livelihood. He used to ferry school children from his native village to Sopore town.
Arif, a B.Sc pass out of SP College Srinagar, is survived by three sisters and two brothers, besides ailing parents. He was the eldest of his siblings.