Islamabad Attack: Is By-Election Getting Bloody?



Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti wave after filed her nominations for the Anantnag assembly segment bypoll on Wednesday PHOTO BY BILAL BAHADUR
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti wave after filed her nominations for the Anantnag assembly segment bypoll on Wednesday. (Photos: Bilal Bahadur/KL)

If the second attack in less than 24 hours in Bejbehara-Islamabad belt is taken as a pointer, the by-election of Islamabad seat is getting tense. Two cops were killed in the weekend morning attack, less than 24 hours after a similar hit-and-run case in main Bejbehara town led to the killing of three BSF men. Seven others are still recuperating in the hospital.

A senior police officer adequately briefed from the ground said a police party was regulating the traffic barely outside the bus stand on KP road. There was lot of traffic pressure toward Pahalgam as well as Khanabal.

“Suddenly three to four militants appeared from Chee Gali who resorted to target firing on the Rakshahk in which the cops were seated,” the officer said. The attack was reported at around 11:20 am. “Both of them received two bullets each in their chest and were immediately driven to the hospital where they were declared brought dead.”

Cops on the spot.
Cops on the spot.

The slain were identified as Assistant Sub Inspector Bashir Ahmad and constable Reyaz Ahmad. One of them was a resident of Ashmuqam and another was from Shangus. “The case is being investigated,” Deputy Commissioner Abid Rashid said. “Situation is tense but under control.”

The officer said that after the attack, two militants escaped taking the same route – the Chee Gali. One of them actually escaped in an Alto car. “The car hit a TATA Sumo and we are in the process of searching the car.”

When asked if the attackers were the same who killed the three BSF personnel on Friday, the officer said he was unsure. “But one thing is there. The gali wherefrom they appeared connects the belt to Kanelwan which is contagious with Bejbehara,” the officer said.

The funeral of the slain cop.
The funeral of the slain cop.

Within hours after the attack, a photo appeared on various social networking sites showing two militants in action. One was carrying a yellow rucksack and carrying a gun in his left hand. Another militant was also part of the frame carrying an AK-47 in his right hand but was near a maruti car. The photograph that various websites used was viral on Whatsapp too.

Police said the town has been peaceful but that never meant the militants were not around. One officer said they believe almost a score odd militants are active in the region. State Police Chief rushed to the town within an hour of the attack.

The attacks came barely 20 days ahead of the by-election for Islamabad assembly segment. The area being represented by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed fell vacant after his demise early 2016. Ms Mehbooba Mufti, who represents South Kashmir in Lok Sabha, is contesting from this belt for becoming member of the legislative assembly. She is being challenged by Congress’s Hilal Shah and NC’s Iftikhar Misgar, a businessman. Even Engineer Rashid who is a member from Langate is also contesting from this seat. Interestingly, Rashid has withdrawn his nominations today.

The funeral of one of the two slain cops.
The funeral of one of the two slain cops.

The twin attacks have added new tensions to the elections. Securing the candidates and ensuring the campaigning remains incident-free is the new tall order for the security grid. On Thursday when Rashid was on his way to Islamabad for campaigning, civil authorities had suggested him against the visit. “I left my car in Bejbehara and then hired an auto and reached Islamabad,” Rashid told Kashmir Life. “I somehow managed 100 people in the lawn of a house and interacted with them.”

The issue of twin attacks rocked state assembly that was discussing the grants of R&B ministry. The government said that they are investigating the case. Ali Mohammad Sagar, the senior lawmakers from NC said the spurt in militancy is reaction to the “unholy alliance” of PDP and BJP. “What is the government doing there as the Chief Minister is personally contesting?” The constituency is slated to go to polls on June 22.

Cops praying for the departed souls of their slain colleagues.
Cops praying for the departed souls of their slain colleagues.

Congress lawmaker Nawang Rigzin Jora took a dig at the ruling coalition saying the attack was carried out after the Prime Minister’s uninvited visit to his counterpart.

BJP’s Ravinder Raina demanded that the house should condemn the attacks. Though the Speaker Kavinder Gupta condemned it, Engineer Rashid reacted saying BJP should not keep quiet on violations of human rights and should be objectively honest and fair.

Separatist leaders have already launched their anti-poll campaign with ailing Syed Ali Geelani asking people to stay away from the elections.

Within a few hours after the mandatory autopsy, the corpses were driven to their native places for burial. Hundreds of people attended the funeral procession of ASI Bashir Ahmad Ahanager in Ashmuqam. Ahnager was a resident of Tral but was living with his wife in Ashmeqam. He is survived by his wife and an adopted son. The local Imam who led the prayers termed Ahanger a Tehjud Guzaar who would pick a battle for Zakaat. He said he was a thorough gentleman. While as Constable Reyaz Ahmad Sheikh is survived by 30-year-old wife, 11-year-old son, 02 daughters of 7, 9 years of age, aged parents, and an unmarried sister.

To pay homage to the slain cops, a wreath laying ceremony was held at District Police Lines Islamabad. Police said they have already registered a case and investigations have begun.

Mourning relatives of the ASI Bashir Ahmad.
Mourning relatives of the ASI Bashir Ahmad.

Meanwhile Chief Minister Ms Mehbooba Mufti expressed anguish over the killings and strongly condemned the act. The attacks, she said, show the desperate levels to which the militants can go to disrupt peace and normalcy.

“Violence is a zero sum game which does not solve any problem but gives rise to more complexities,” Ms Mufti said, insisting that only the weak resort to killings. “The security forces personnel and the policemen, who are performing difficult duties not out of choice but to earn bread and butter for their families, are losing their precious lives in such dastardly attacks.”

Chief Minister said the perpetrators of bloodbath must realize that it is not through the gun and grenade that political problems are resolved. “Dialogue and reconciliation are the only options for making headway in finding a solution,” she said and added that hundreds of civilians, security forces personnel, policemen and militants have been killed in the State over the past more than two decades of turmoil leaving behind a trail of tragedies for the victim families.

“My heartfelt condolences to the families of Assistant Sub-Inspector, Bashir Ahmad and a Constable, Reyaz Ahmad, killed in Islamabad today,” she said and added these dastardly acts depict the desperation on part of militant groups and nothing else as they are only adding to miseries of Kashmiris.

She said such killings cannot deter the resolve of the government in moving ahead to bring peace and normalcy to the State and end the miseries of its people.


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