Syed Junaid Hashmi: A weapon snatching incident which was being talked about as a major security goof-up and ploy of some militant groups turned out to be a criminal act by a group of youngsters from Shopian district of South Kashmir with intent to use the weapon for extortion.
“The information that we have so far points towards these three youngsters having snatched the weapon purely for the purpose of extortion. So far, there is no militant angle to this weapon snatching incident,” said IG Jammu SD Singh Jamwal while talking to Kashmir Life. He added that the three youngsters have neither any criminal history nor have they been involved in any militant act but some cases of their involvement in stone-pelting have surfaced.
“After the surrender of Mohammed Aamir, the investigation has started. Though it appears to be a criminal act but investigation is on and we are looking at all the angles. But as of now, we have no reason to believe that it was a militant act or that these youngsters had snatched the weapon to use it for militancy purpose,” clarified Jamwal.
However, since the day the weapon had been snatched from Jewel Chowk, in the heart of Jammu city, police had tightened vigil and harassment of youngsters from Kashmir valley had been going on. From checking all Kashmir bound vehicles to demanding identity cards from all the travellers, Jammu and Kashmir police alongwith CRPF and Army had been doing everything possible to find the alleged trained over-ground worker (OGW) of an unidentified militant group.
Since the three youngsters involved in the weapon snatching incident had been identified with the help of CCTV cameras installed in the Jewel Chowk area of Jammu city, photographs of all the three had been splashed immediately all over the state. The two were arrested within hours of the weapon snatching incident. Masood was arrested from the place of incident i.e Jewel area, Jammu and his bike was also seized while Shahid was nabbed near Toll Plaza Nagrota, when he was trying to leave Jammu and proceed towards Kashmir valley.
With their arrest, police had launched a massive manhunt to nab the third culprit who, according to the police had taken the snatched weapon from the site of the incident in his bag and gone towards the Gujjarnagar area of Jammu city. The JDA parking behind Hotel Rivera Inn and the service stations alongside it were thoroughly checked with strict instructions to all of them to revert in case the third accused is seen or tries to board any Kashmir bound vehicle.
However, in a twist to the tale, third accused Mohammed Aamir on Tuesday evening surrendered before SSP Shopian Tahir Saleem Khan. “He surrendered before us at around 7 PM on Tuesday evening. After he surrendered, he said that he had hid the weapon in Jammu. We sent a police party from here alongwith the accused to be handed over to Jammu police for further investigation since the weapon has been snatched in Jammu,” said Tahir.
After Jammu police informed us about the identity of the weapon snatcher, we immediately contacted his family and told them to counsel Mohammed Aamir to surrender if he comes in contact with them, said Tahir. He added that the moment Amir reached his home in Ratnipora in Shopian district, his family persuaded him to surrender. “He came to us and we immediately sent him to Jammu alongwith a police party,” added Tahir.
Tahir said that Mohammed Aamir is a painter by profession and has no past history of being involved in any militancy related activity. Aamir reached Jammu in the wee hours of the morning and was straightway taken to Police Station (PS) Nowabad, from where the team of Jammu police took him to the place where he had hid the weapon. According to the Jammu police, the weapon has been recovered and investigation is on.
It needs to be mentioned here that Three Kashmiri youth identified as Amir, Masood and Shahid, all residents of Shopian district, attacked police constable Mohammad Hanief posted as Personal Security Officer of Anjuman Minhaj-e-Rasool chairman Maulana Dehlavi, near the main Tawi bridge in Jammu last week. They attacked the policeman with a stick and also threw chilli powder in his eyes. They snatched the AK-47 rifle from him and fled.