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Saturday, April 21, 2012

With removal of CRPF bunker, ASI gunned down in Srinagar

Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, JKIF claim responsibility of the broad daylight cop killing

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 20: Even as Omar Abdullah government was busy in removing a 20-year-old CRPF bunker at Lalchowk and celebrating the “victory”, unidentified gunmen shot dead an Assistant Sub Inspector of Police (ASI) in broad daylight near Safakadal in the capital city today. With many in the town expecting mainstream politicians to lay the blame on security forces, two militant outfits---Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen and J&K Islamic Front (JKIF)--- claimed responsibility of the ASI’s killing.

Superintendent of Police, North, in Srinagar city, Shaukat Sarwar, told Early times that an unidentified gunman, widely believed to be a Kashmiri militant, fired four pistol shots in point blank range on the back of ASI Sukhpal Singh, posted at Police Division Bagyas under jurisdiction of Police Station Safakadal, when he was regulating heavy rush of vehicular traffic at Darishkadal, Safakadal, at 9.40 a.m. All four of the gunshots got pumped into the ASI’s body and he fell in a pool of blood.

Even as the ASI was on duty alongwith two more of his colleagues, the shootout led to a stampede. By the time, the critically wounded ASI was evacuated and admitted to the nearby SMHS Hospital, he had suffered extensive blood loss. Within half-an-hour, doctors declared him dead. His body was carried to District Police Lines (DPL) Srinagar where a wreath-laying ceremony took place. Minister of State for Home, Nasir Aslam Wani, IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai, besides senior officers of Police and paramilitary forces paid floral tributes to the slain ASI.

Sources said that dead body of the 50-year-old ASI, who is survived by his parents, wife and children, was later carried all the way to his residential village of Chatusa, Rafiabad, in Baramulla district for funeral rites.
Broad daylight killing of the Police official happened after months of calm and beginning of a bustling tourist season. Last time, such kind of an incident had occurred at Telbal Adda in Hazratbal area when suspected militants had shot dead Constable Sajjad Ahmad of IRP 19th Bn.

Today’s firing happened within hours of the removal of a 20-year-old CRPF bunker at the business hub of Lalchowk. As Ministers and Police officials were still busy in issuing statements of “victory” and claiming credit for making the capital city free of bunkers and paramilitary forces, suspected militants struck on the ASI at Safakadal.

Even as most of the residents appeared to be indifferent to both---removal of bunker as well as killing of the ASI---quite a number in politics, media and other institutions were not readily inclined to accept today’s shootout as a militants’ handiwork. Journalists were even trying more to contact NC’s leader Dr Mustafa Kamal more than the senior Police officials for comments as they expected the ruling party’s MLA to blame security forces for the “mischief”. In recent past, mainstream politicians like Dr Kamal have been holding security forces responsible for certain guerrilla actions allegedly for the purpose of justifying their continued presence and J&K Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

However, setting aside many of the speculations, two militant outfits, one after another, claimed responsibility for the ASI’s killing. KNS reported that Jamiatul Mujahideen’s spokesman, Jameel Ahmad, and J&K Islamic Front’s Sheikh Jamsheed claimed over telephone separately that militants of their respective organisations had gunned down the ASI.

SP of Special Operations Group (SOG) Srinagar, Tahir Sajjad Bhat, said that Police were working on different inputs to identify and arrest the killer. He said that no raids had been conducted and nobody had been arrested till late tonight. He said that Police interacted with some passers-by and by-standers but none of them was in a position to give any description of the incident or the gunman.

SP North, Shaukat Sarwar, said that Police had received certain clues with regard to identification of the killer and his organisation and hideouts. He said that Police would launch an operation to arrest the killer anytime from tonight. He too asserted that no arrests had taken place. However, residents of Safakadal alleged that Police arrested an auto-driver, namely Imtiyaz Ahmad Burza, of their neighbourhood. They met officials and demanded Burza’s release with the claim that he was innocent and had no knowledge about the killer or involvement in the killing.


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