SRINAGAR: Amid fear of violence, curfew has been imposed and security stepped up in the sensitive Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir after a top state BJP leader and his brother were assassinated by unknown gunmen last night.

Anil Parihar, the J&K BJP’s State Secretary, and his brother, Ajeet Parihar, were returning home from a stationary shop that the latter runs outside Old DC Office Complex in Kishtwar, when the assassins struck.

“They were passing through a dark alley in Tapal area at around 8.30 pm when unknown gunmen shot them from a close range. Anil died on the spot while his brother succumbed at a hospital,” SSP Kishtwar Rajinder Gupta said.

The killing sparked protests in the town with the supporters of the BJP leader ransacking the hospital, beating up people and also manhandling the SSP and SHO, part of the police team that reached the area after the news of the killing.

Shouting anti-Pakistan slogans, the protesters also attacked the police vehicles and pelted stones at security forces. Protesters clashed with the police at many places in the town, prompting the district administration to step up security.

Protests demonstrations were also taken out by the supporters of the BJP leader in the main town last night who were demanding immediate arrest of the culprits. Fearing escalation, authorities have imposed curfew in the town.

“Keeping in view the prevailing situation in Kishtwar town due to assassination of Sh. Anil Parihar by some miscreants /unknown persons on 1-11-2018 evening, there is apprehension of some incident regarding peace and tranquility by way of mobilising unlawful assembles” reads the order issued by DC Kishtwar which also ordered imposition of curfew.

The motive behind the killing remains unknown. Police has maintained a cautious silence on the issue since the identity of the killers has not been ascertained so far. “It can be a case of personal rivalry but the involvement of militants can’t be ruled out,” the SSP said.

Kishtwar, which is located some 200 kilometres from the winter capital Jammu, is a communally sensitive area with mixed population of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. The town has a tattered history of communal violence. In 2013, three persons were killed when a scuffle during Eid congregation led to communal flare-up.

The killing of two brothers evoked condemnation across the political spectrum. “My heart goes out to the bereaved family. Spoke to advisor to J&K Governor, Vijay Kumar regarding the incident. The police will leave no stone unturned to bring the perpetrators to justice,” union home minister Rajnath Singh wrote on Twitter.

Former chief minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah said on Twitter: “Very sad news. My condolences to Anil & Ajit Parihar’s family & colleagues. May their souls rest in peace.”