Two Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists on Monday barged into the house of a Bharatiya Janata Party sarpanch in Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag district and sprayed him and his wife, also a saffron party panch, with bullets, taking the number of BJP workers killed in the valley this year to five.
The incident, according to the police, took place at 4 pm in Lal Chowk area as the two terrorists entered the rented accommodation of Ghulam Rasool Dar and fired indiscriminately at him Jawhara Begum, a police spokesperson said.
The two BJP leaders received critical gunshot injuries and were immediately shifted to a hospital, where they were declared brought dead, he said.
Immediately after the incident, Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range) Vijay Kumar reached the spot to have a firsthand assessment of the situation.
"Two motorcycle-borne terrorists of the banned LeT outfit were involved in this barbaric terror incident," the IGP said.
The couple was provided a secured accommodation at the Snow Cap Hotel, Kulgam, and they stayed there for a short period, but they had been continuously insisting to move to their house at Anantnag Town and also submitted an undertaking in this regard, police said.
"On their request, they were allowed to stay at the house in Anantnag. He was also provided with one PSO who, however, was found absent from duty at the time of incident. The said PSO has been placed under suspension," a statement from the police said.
It said the police have registered a case and a probe underway to establish the full circumstances of this terror crime. The ares has been cordoned off and a search operation is going on.
Dar, a resident of Redwani area of district Kulgam, was a sarpanch affiliated with the BJP and had unsuccessfully contested the last year's District Development Council elections.
He was also the district president of the BJP's Kisan Morcha for Kulgam and was living in a rented accommodation in Anantnag.
With the killing of Dar and his wife, the number of BJP leaders targeted by the ultras this year alone has risen to five.
While two BJP councilors were killed in a daring attack on the Municipal Council in Sopore area of Baramulla district in March, Rakesh Pandita, a BJP councilor from Tral in Pulwama district, was shot dead on June 2.
Terrorists have also targeted civilians, policemen and off-duty army jawans during the year. While nine civilians have been killed by terrorists, six police personnel and an armyman also lost their lives in similar attacks.
Last year also, terrorists targeted BJP workers killing at least six of them.
Leaders across the political spectrum condemned the killing, with the BJP asserting their sacrifices will not be allowed to go waste.
"Once again the coward Pakistani-sponsored terrorists have bled Kashmir by killing our Kisan Morcha leader and his wife. Both of them were active members of the BJP and enthusiastically took part in functions to mark the second anniversary of the revocation of Article 370 on August 5 and raised the Tricolour,"J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina said.
"They have sacrificed their lives for the nation and we will not allow their sacrifice to go waste."
National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah said the deceased join a long list of mainstream politicians killed for their political beliefs.
"I unequivocally condemn the assassination of Ghulam Rasool Dar & his wife. They join a long list of mainstream politicians killed for their political beliefs. My condolences to his family & colleagues. May Allah grant the departed place in Jannat," he wrote on Twitter.
Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said she felt sorry to hear the news of the killing. "My condolences to their families & loved ones," she tweeted.
Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone also condemned the killing.
"Yet again a Kashmiri family is a victim of violence. Yet again, more addition to the community of orphans and hapless victims of gun. May the killers rot in hell," he said.
J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha assured prompt action against the perpetrators.
"I strongly condemn brutal terrorist attack on the Sarpanch GH Rasool Dar and his wife Jawhara Banoo of Redwani Bala, Kulgam. This is an act of cowardice & perpetrators of violence will be brought to justice very soon. My deepest condolences to bereaved family in this time of grief," he tweeted.