Hizb chief Salahuddin’s son among 160 rescued by Police, CRPF at EDI complex
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz_______
JAMMU, Feb 24: Son of Pakistan-based United Jihad Council and the formidable militant organisation Hizbul Mujahideen’s chief Syed Salahuddin was among the 160 employees and trainees who were rescued by men of Jammu and Kashmir Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at the beginning of the fidayeen attack at Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) on Srinagar outskirts on last Saturday.
Syed Mueed Yousuf, who has been appointed as Manager Information Technology by EDI, after his post-graduation in the subject a few years back, was offering his late afternoon (asr) prayers on the first floor of the imposing 5-storey EDI complex when three heavily armed Lashkar-e-Tayyiba militants attacked a CRPF convoy, killing two personnel, and trooped into the government building. Syed broke off his prayers and, like other colleagues---17 men and 5 women---rushed down to the ground floor.
Brandishing their assault rifles, the militants directed all the 23 EDI employees to quickly drop their mobile phones and move out while keeping their arms up so that they were not mistaken as militants and fired upon by ‘fauj’ (Army). “Niklo jaldi, niklo jaldi, fauj aarahi hai. Encounter start hone wala hai. Hamein aap logoon ke saath kuch nahi hai. Hamari jung fauj ke saath hai” (Move out quickly. Army is coming in. Encounter is about to begin. We have got nothing to do with you people. We will be fighting the army), the militants in their mid-20s shouted on the hysterical employees.
All of them jumped out from the rear side and walked to the eight-storey hostel building. In the next few minutes, J&K Police and CRPF stormed the complex and launched the rescue operation.
Militants did not open fire until the CRPF bulletproof vehicles reached the hostel entrance. Syed was among the first few who were asked to board an armoured vehicle. He and others, however, let some junior officials take the first turn. Perched on a vantage position in the canteen, on the attic of the main EDI complex, the militants fired a volley of AK-47 fire that left four CRPF men and the EDI gardener Abdul Gani Mir injured.
Thereafter Syed and others rushed quickly into another bulletproof vehicle. They attempted to rescue an injured Mir in the same vehicle but failed. Thereafter, Mir was rescued in a bulletproof Gypsy of J&K Police. Due to excessive loss of blood he later succumbed to injuries at the hospital.
IGP Kashmir Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gilani told STATE TIMES: “Yes Salahuddin’s son works there as an engineer. He was among the people we evacuated before launching our operation”.
Director EDI Mohammad Ismail Parray too confirmed that Syed Mueed was among the 160-odd employees and trainees evacuated from the complex. He said that some employees had left minutes before the fidayeen attack occurred at 4.15 pm but 23 of them were still in the main building.
Around 130 trainees and seven employees were in the hostel building.
“Had it happened earlier, everybody of them would have got trapped in the main building. We are deeply shocked over the death of our gardener and the damage caused to the main building as we are all emotionally attached to it. But we will restore it to a better glory”, Dr Parray, who has raised the Centrally-funded Rs 37-crore buildings on the premises and made these operational.
Over the last five years, EDI has trained thousands of unemployed youth in different disciplines and helped them start and operate their own industrial and business units.
All the three Lashkar-e-Tayyiba militants, three Army men including two Captains of Special Forces, three CRPF personnel (including one who succumbed to injuries today) and a civilian died in the gunbattle.