Sopore Blast: The Complete Story

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SRINAGAR: On the 25th anniversary of the Sopore massacre, a perennial remembrance of the killings and arson that BSF resorted to in 1993, was known to one and all. The border guards, then, were reacting to the snatching of an LMG that a border guard had left unmanned in the main market.

This year, as usual, the town was on strike on the call by the separatist leaders. Temperatures were already down, people were limited to their homes and the police started their routine deployments. Most of the streets were deserted.A view of the damaged shop after the IED blast, triggered by militants in which four police personnel were killed, at Sopore in North Kashmir on Saturday. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

“We were in the process of deploying the policemen across the town and there we had a junction of two lanes which usually would be troubling because of the frequent stone pelting,” SP Sopore Harmit Singh said. “We deployed four of our policemen on this junction.”

The officer said that the cops deployed saw no movement of people around as the shops were closed on the hartal call. “The deployment took place at 9:30 am,” the officer said. “They detected a box near the parapet of a shop and could not immediately recognize that it could be a landmine.” The explosive device went off at 9:58 exactly hitting all the four cops who were deployed in the lane junction.

All the cops belonged to the IRP 3rd battalion. The impact of the blast shook the entire Sopore, especially the main market. Three of the cops died on the spot.Security personnel rush to the spot where the militants blew off the IED killing four cops on the spot at Chota Bazaar Sopore on Saturday 6 January 2018. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Those who were killed on the spot included Assistant Sub Inspector Irshad Ahmad (825685), a resident of Chunotha (Bhaderwah),  constable Ghulam Nabi Ahanger (720/IRP 3rd), a resident of Rohana Rafiabad, and constable Parvaiz Ahmad Mir (915/IRP 3rd), a resident of Villgam Handwara.

Their fourth colleague constable Mohammad Amin (470/IRP 3rd), a resident of Sogam in Kupwara, received critical injuries and was immediately rushed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Ghulam Nabi, who was known in his circle as Jiya, was around 38 years of age and was the sole bread-earner for his aged parents, and three daughters. Constable Ghulam Nabi is survived by aged parents, pregnant wife, minor daughter Faheeqa Nabi, 4, two brothers and two unmarried sisters. Reports said his only son is a handicapped boy. Incidentally, his brother has appealed for the solution to Kashmir problem insisting that it has led to thousands of youngsters killings in recent years.

ASI Irshad Ahmad, police spokesman said, is survived by 72 years old mother, wife, two sons Nadeem Irshad, 19, Sahil Irshad, 10, two daughters Fiza Irshad, 16, and Toiba Bano about 13 years old. His family has accused police of disrespecting the slain as his body was driven to his home for last rites and not by air.

Constable Mohammad Amin is survived by aged mother, wife, minor son Tajam-ul-Islam about 4 years old, a brother and three sisters.

Constable Parvaiz Ahmad is survived by aged father, wife, minor son Mohammad Noman, who is about 3 years old, unmarried sister and three brothers.Four cops who were killed in the IED blast in Sopore. JKP Photo

The blast left the spot in a state of Syria like situation. All the shops were literally bulldozed and with mangled merchandise. Police said five shops were literally destroyed and five others were partially damaged. The spot of the blast is located between, what locally is known as, Chotta Bazaar and Bada Bazaar.

The slain cops were driven to the District Police Lines Sopore for the wreath laying event. It was led by Additional Director General of Police Munir Ahmad Khan. Others who participated in the event included IGP Armed Ahfadul Mujtaba, SSP Sopore Harmeet Singh, SSP Baramulla Imtiyaz Hussain, CO’s of 22 RR and 179 Bn CRPF, all DySsP and jawans of the district.

“Pained to hear that four policemen have been killed in an IED explosion in Sopore. My deepest condolences to their families,” Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti wrote on Twitter.

“These young policemen were killed when they were on duty to protect the people in the town. It is highly unfortunate to see.” The vortex of violence in the state, she added, needs to be broken and for that, every section of society has to work shoulder to shoulder.

“Very sad news from #Sopore. May the four brave J&K police personnel killed in the line of duty today rest in peace,” former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted.Senior police officers carry the coffin of one of the four cops who was killed in an IED Blast in Sopore. The picture was taken at DPL Sopore. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Independent lawmaker Engineer Rasheed while expressing sympathy with the families of cops who lost their lives in Sopore blast reiterated that Kashmiris want an end to killings but since there is nothing in their hands, their condemnations and sympathies are useless.

“Let India and Pakistan understand the bitter realities and rise to the occasion without further delay so that people of Jammu & Kashmir see some light at the end of the tunnel,” Rasheed said in a public meeting in Poonch.

“Lost my school-mate, Amin, in today’s IED blast at Sopore. He was a young man, 6 feet tall, with an amazing sense of humour,” IAS officer Shah Feasal, who heads the JKSPDC wrote on his Facebook. “I had never thought that he would die so soon. May his soul rest in peace and may Kashmir see an end to this bloodshed.”

Reports suggest that Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit has claimed responsibility for the IED blast insisting that it was carried out by the ‘Shaheed Afzal Guru squad’.

Police said they have registered a case and started the investigations. “We have not arrested anybody so far as we are working for the clues,” a senior police officer said.

The IED blast came within a few days after a young man Arif Ahmad Sofi was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the same area. The condemnations poured in from both the sides of the ideological divide. Though right-wing party BJP owned Arif as their worker, his aged father Mohammad Maqbool Sofi strongly condemned the BJP’s statement and said that “Arif was a true freedom lover and has never participated in any anti-Kashmir freedom activity.”

Sopore, popularly known as Chota London, Sopore was never out of the crisis. Decimated by strife, the Apple town has remained the hotbed of the militant activities post-1990’s.

The anniversary of civilians brutally killed in 1993 by BSF next year will collide with the anniversary of the four policemen killed today. Interestingly, January 6, is the first death anniversary of Mohammad Muzaffar Naikoo, an al-Badr militant who also belongs to Sopore. An erstwhile Hizb militant, known for his interruptions in the telecommunications was killed in Budgam and was known by his alias Muza Molvi.

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