Srinagar: Militants belonging to Hizb-ul-Mujahedin may have been involved in the gruesome murder of an unarmed Kashmiri Muslim Army officer in southern Kulgam district of restive Valley, the police officials said on Thursday. The Hizb and Lashkar-e-Taiba are also involved in recent weapon snatching incidents and the killing of five policemen and two bank guards in south Kashmir, they added.
Lieutenant Umar Fayyaz Parray of 2 Rajputana Rifles was on leave when abducted by two masked gunmen from the wedding of his (maternal) cousin in Batpora village of Kulgam on Tuesday night. His bullet-riddled corpse was found in Harmain area of neighbouring Shopian district on Wednesday morning. The gory incident evoked a nationwide outrage and renewal of the government’s pledge that “terrorism will be eradicated from the Valley at any cost”.
The young officer’s murder and the ongoing student unrest in the Valley dominated the discussion over the overall Kashmir situation between the visiting Union Home Secretary, Rajiv Mehrishi, and Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, here on Thursday. He is also scheduled to meet Governor N.N. Vohra and separately hold review meetings with the concerned officials here, the government sources said.
Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range) Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani said that the preliminary investigation into the Army officer’s murder points out to the involvement of a module of the Hizb active in Shopian. The police has found two empty cartridges of an INSAS rifle at the place where Parray was shot dead which indicates that the weapon snatched from the policemen recently was used in committing the crime. The police has, however, denied earlier reports which had said that the corpse of the slain Army officer bore torture marks.
"We had had two incidents of weapon-snatching in south Kashmir recently. We have leads that the Kulgam snatching was carried out by Lashkar militants while Hizb militants were involved in weapon-snatching at Shopian court complex. So it could be one of those weapons (used in the murder of the Army officer),” Gillani said. He added that the autopsy report was awaited but confirmed that there were no torture marks on Parray’s body.
The Army has vowed “to bring the perpetrators of this heinous act of terror to justice”. Major General B. S. Raju, the General Officer in Command of the Victor Force which is responsible for counter-terrorism operations in south Kashmir, had on Wednesday directed all its units in and around the area to launch a manhunt for the killers. The mortal remains of the slain officer were laid to rest with full military honours in the ancestral graveyard in village Yaripora (Kulgam) on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, IG BSF Sonali Mishra and her counterpart from the CRPF Ravideep Singh on Thursday held separate meetings with Governor Vohra to discuss the Kashmir situation in the backdrop of recent incidents of violence, the student protests and increasing activities of militants mainly in southern parts of Kashmir Valley. An official spokesman said that the officers “briefed the Governor about their respective areas of responsibility, the obtaining internal security situation and the arrangements being made for the safety and security of pilgrims during the upcoming Amarnath yatra.”
Even after the government's ordering closure of some educational institutions or suspending teaching work at these, the student protests have continued in parts of the Valley. On Thursday, the students of Government-run Boy’s Higher Secondary School in north-western town of Sopore held protests and soon clashed with security forces. Reports said that a police contingent had been deployed at the main entrance to the campus which became the provocation for the students to pelt stones at it amid chants of "we want freedom". The police fired teargas canisters inside the campus but soon the students of a nearby college too joined the protests and clashed with the police, the witnesses said. Similar clashes were reported from Langaet area of neighbouring Kupwara district.
In view of unending student unrest, Srinagar’s DC Farooq Ahmed Lone has ordered that the class work at the City’s Sri Pratap Higher Secondary School shall remain suspended on Friday “as a precautionary measure”. DC of central district Budgam has also announced suspension of class work in Government Degree College and Government Higher Secondary School in Magam on May 12....