Cop lynched outside Jamia was neither a spy nor an assassin

SRINAGAR: After the night long prayers when the faithful had their Sehri, a minority of young and restive went to bed, satisfied that the romance of James Bond 007 was finally over. The man lynched to death by a group of youth, loitering the same way outside the Jamia Masjid as the slain was, eventually proved neither a spy nor an assassin.

Mohammad Altaf Pandith

By now, police have rounded up two of three youth accused of murder at a public place. Mirwaiz Umer Farooq who was speaking from the pulpits of Jamia at the time the cop was captured and paraded, has rightly termed it the most brutal murder.

Even though Mohammad Ayub Pandith, the DySP is resting in his grave, there are questions still unanswered. Why was he deployed outside the mosque in a night when there are thousands of people assembled in the space? How can DySP not have his own security detail at a time when security of all the SHOs in South Kashmir was recently upgraded? Was there any threat to Mirwaiz who is also a secured person? If there were two more guys with Pandith, who somehow managed to give the mob a slip, why did not they inform the police or the CRPF, the detachments of which were not far away?

Senior Police officials carry the coffin of slain Mohammad Ayoub Pandit a Deputy Superintendent of Police during his wreath laying ceremony at Police Line in Srinagar , on Friday June 23, 2017.  KL Image/Bilal Bhadur

Then there are questions about why the slain officer did not tell the truth? He could have asked his captors to taken him to Mirwaiz. But that chapter is closed and only the killers can know if at all he talked on those lines. There are reports that once his argument started with some youth, he was taken and paraded for some time in the rare of the mosque. Only an investigation can reveal whether the police man opened fire immediately after the argument or after he was paraded around during which he was beaten and stripped.

The government has not told anything on the killing other than arrests and a determination to get the killers to justice. Chief Minister said he had gone to offer prayers and sent his security away saying the area belongs to him and there are no tensions.

Relatives mourn at the coffin of the slain police officer Mohammed Ayoub Pandit during funeral procession KL image/Bilal Bhadur

But a senior police officer said Pandith was on duty. “He is from the security wing and in Jamia Masjid there are some cops routinely deployed for frisking the faithful before they enter the mosque,” the officer said. “On major occasions, the number of people for security is increased and he was actually supervising them.”

” The police officer had moved out of the Jamia Masjid as people had raised the commotion and were shouting slogans when Mirwaiz Umer had been entering the mosque,” Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Security, Dilbagh Singh, was quoted saying. “It is at that time that the incident took place. We are investigating the matter and appropriate action will be taken in the incident.”

Son of slain DYSP Mohammad Ayoub Pandit pays respect to his father during a wreath laying ceremoney at DPL in srinagar

Pandith was part of a 12-member group from police security wing who were deployed in the Shab-e-Qadr. “He (DSP) just went out to see when the people went out of mosque raising slogans probably to receive Moulvi Umer Farooq. He went out to see what led to this kind of commotion,” Singh has said. “It is unfortunate however that the people for whose security he was deployed turned out to be his killers,” the ADGP said. He has also said that armed police was deployed “inside the mosque for the security and the entire matter is under investigation.”

These cops deployed on the security duty in and around Jamia Masjid are part of Jamia eco system and have never been touched. Did Pandith reprimand a boy or boys and was he trying recording them on his phone? The situation is unclear. Had his personal security left him at the mercy of the cops deployed in and around the mosque? Since investigations are going on, many things are unclear.

But what is clear is that there is an element of dehumanisation in Kashmir society, an outcome of the inhuman situation in which Kashmir has been living for decades now. Public lynching of a man using stones and sticks has been one of the worst new additions to the contemporary history.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti along with her cabinet colleagues and senior party leaders observes a silence wreath laying eventof slain Mohammad Ayoub Pandit a Deputy Superintendent of Police during his wreath laying ceremony  KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

This has not been the first instance in which a police man landed in a crisis and was a caught. This, however, is the first incident in which a security man failed to survive even after using his service weapon. Most probably this was because the people around were unwilling to offer him an exit.

In the 2017 Lok Sabha elections, there were more various instances in which the youth took paramilitary men literally in a siege and then escorted them out to safe places, to the nearest garrisons. They filmed it to keep as evidence that they helped them move safely out of the danger.

A relative mourns on the coffin of the slain police officer Mohammad Ayub Pandit during funeral procession
KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

In October 2016, villagers in Lasjan, not far away from Srinagar, came out in hoards to help the Army after their vehicle met with an accident on the outskirts of Srinagar city. They also evacuate the injured.

In 2014 floods, youth from Samboora near Pampore rescued 19, 50 RR soldiers from drowning. This is different story that the 21 year old boy who led was later arrested in 2015 for religious activities.

One of the most dramatic incidents took place in a Bandipore village, a few years back, when residents caught a soldier inappropriate getting into a home. Villagers caught him with ropes and took him in a massive procession to Bandipore where he was handed over to the police.

In all the unrests between 2008 and 2016, there were countless instances in which the cops and the protesters came to blows at each other. There were efforts to lynch cops and protesters too. But there were many people around who prevented them from doing it.

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