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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Militants strike in a big way after 3 years in Srinagar

ASI, head constable gunned down in Zadibal; constable on highway; Hizbul Mujahideen claims responsibility

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 23: Nearly three years after killing two constables in Amirakadal area, and for the first time in the 14-month old PDP-BJP rule in Jammu and Kashmir, militants struck in a big way in the State’s summer capital on Monday, killing three Police personnel, including an Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI), in broad daylight. Hizbul Mujahideen immediately claimed responsibility for the twin attacks carried out in Zadibal and Tengpora neighbourhoods.

Authoritative sources told STATE TIMES that two unidentified militants on a motorcycle slowed down in front of two unarmed Policemen outside Zadibal Police Station at 10.35 am. From their pistols, they fired on chest and head of the targeted Police officials who are believed to have died on the spot. Killed like sitting ducks under the shadows of a tree, they were later identified as ASI Ghulam Mohammad Bhat of Surigam, Lolab (Kupwara) and Head Constable Nazir Ahmad Mir of Chak Sarmarg, Handwara (Kupwara). Doctors at SKIMS declared them as brought dead.

Eyewitnesses said that the militant duo zipped past two more unarmed men of the Police party of Police Station Zadibal but did not strike on them. After carrying out the attack, the assassins drove in the direction of Soura. According to eyewitness, ASI Bhat was completely unarmed while as Constable Mir was seen holding a baton.

In less than an hour, unidentified militants accosted a parked Tata Sumo at Tengpora, on the national highway bypass. One of the two militants took out his pistol and shot dead constable Mohammad Sadiq Sheikh of Dudhi Machhil (Kupwara) who was in uniform and holding an AK-47 rifle. Sources said that Sadiq, from JKAP 11th battalion  (Security), was attached as personal security officer to one Mohammad Abdullah Chaket of Handwara area who is incorporated as a leader of Pasmanda Tabqajat organisation. He had reportedly entered a nearby house to meet an acquaintance and fortunately had not returned when the militants targeted his PSO.

The assassins escaped after snatching away the AK-47 rifle of the slain constable.

Striking nearly three years after the last Police killing on June 22, 2013, when two Police personnel had been gunned down at Maharaja Bazar Amirakadal, militants spread a wave of terror in Srinagar with the twin incidents. Even as some Police officials have been attacked and killed elsewhere in Kashmir valley, Police have not suffered this kind of fatal strike in Srinagar in the last three years.

Condemning the barbaric killing of three police personnel in Srinagar, the Cabinet which met here under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, expressed profound grief over the death of the three Police officials.
Describing the killings as "cowardly acts aimed at derailing the peace and reconciliation process in the State", Cabinet said that such killings cannot deter the resolve of the Government in moving ahead to bring peace and normalcy to the State.

While expressing solidarity with the bereaved families, Cabinet assured that the Government would stand by the families of the martyred policemen in this hour of grief and will extend all possible help and assistance to the next of kin.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti led the ministers, bureaucracy and Civil and Police officials and security forces in paying floral tributes to the slain Police personnel. Dy CM Nirmal Singh, Minister for Law Parliamentary affairs and RDD Abdul Haq Khan, Minister of CAPD Choudhary Zulfikar, Minister for Cooperative Tsering Dorjay, Chief Secretary B.R. Sharma, Home Secretary R.K. Goyal, Director General of Police K. Rajendra Kumar and other civil and Police officers were present on the wreath laying ceremony at Police Control Room in Srinagar.

Chief Minister expressed solidarity with the bereaved families and prayed for peace to the departed souls. Recalling the sacrifices of police personnel in combating militancy in the state, Ms. Mufti said such dastardly acts were against the basic tenets of humanity and they should be condemned by one and all.

"My heart goes out to the families of the slain police personnel and I hope that the perpetrators will be taken to task soon," she said. Ms. Mufti said such attacks were "attempts by vested interests to derail the peace and reconciliation process started by the state government in Jammu and Kashmir which will also impact the economy at a time when the tourism activity had started picking up in the state".

Former Chief Minister and National Conference acting President Omar Abdullah too condemned the killing of the three Police personnel and expressed solidarity with the bereaved families. On twitter, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi expressed concern over the resurging militancy in Kashmir.

Reports from Kupwara said that large numbers of people gathered at the residences of the three slain Police officials and extended sympathies and condolences to the bereaved families. They also participated in their funeral rites including namaaz-e-janazah. Family members and relatives mourned the deaths, crying and asking why the "innocent policemen", who had "never done anything wrong" had been shot dead.

In a statement, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen spokesman Buhanuddin, on behalf of the organisation, claimed the responsibility for the twin attacks on police in Srinagar that left three cops, including an officer, dead. Burhan-ud-din told news agency CNS that at least three policemen were killed in the twin attacks carried out by a special squad of the outfit.

“Besides killing three policemen of Special Operation Group, the militants managed to decamp with a rifle of a slain policeman,” he said.

He added that Operation Field Commander of the outfit has directed the squad to intensify the attacks on Special Operation Group (SOG). “The attacks on the security establishments will continue,” he warned.


[ Published in today’s STATE TIMES ]

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