Sopore Attack: The Complete Story

SRINAGAR: With the two slain persons being lowered to the graves in the Sopore periphery, the details about the broad daylight attack are coming to the fore. The fact is that it was not an attack on the Block Development Council (BDC). The target was the Sopore Municipal Council.

A person injured in the Sopore attack being evacuated to the hospital. KL Image Special Arrangement

Irshad Rasool Kar, whose sister and mother are the two members of the Municipal Council, said he was the first to reach the spot. “It was the PSO of my sister who retaliated and saved the situation,” Kar said on phone. “Otherwise, all the 16 people in the hall may not have survived with injuries.”

“I do not know how the media reported about BDC while it was the MC,” Kar said. (Interestingly, BDC was in a separate meeting with Panchs and Sarpanches somewhere near the bus stand. For the whole day BDC Sopore did not clarify that the attack was on MC Sopore.)

Relatives mourn the killing of Riyaz Ahmad, BJP’s Municipal Councillor who was killed in a militant attack, at Sopore on Monday, March 29,
KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

The Council meeting was called in the office of the Sopore Municipal Council and the attack was carried out within 15 minutes of the start of the meeting. “My sister rang me up and I rushed to the spot and lifted the two bodies from the spot,” he said.

Sopore Council has 21 councillors of whom 16 were present excluding the executive officer.

Police said the attack was carried out by two militants. After one among them opened fire killing a BJP councillor, Reyaz and a PSO on the spot and leaving the other councillor injured, the other PSO of Ms Kar has fired from his pistol. This led the attacker to flee, Kar quoted the witnesses saying.

Crisis Ridden MC

The Sopore MC has a chronic crisis. The last time when the polls took place, NC and PDP stayed away. This led to the election of only eight councillors, mostly unopposed. The government installed a BJP member, Abdul Ahad Malla as the MC Chairman.

A medical official who saw the injured on the March 29, 2021, attack in Sopore, showing the identity card of the slain councillor. KL Image Bilal Bahadur

Last year, when the by-elections took place on 13 vacant wards, 11 wards were swept by NC. Now the quorum is full: NC has 11 berths, BJP has 7 and three are with independents. “Almost three years back, we moved a no-confidence motion against the chairperson,” Kar said. “For last three months, this state of democracy is preventing re-election of the MC Chairperson. Officials tell us they have no idea who has the authority to do it.”

In the attack, two BJP councillors were hit. While Reyaz Ahmad was killed, Shamsuddin was seriously injured and is being treated in a Srinagar hospital. Along with Reyaz, a PSO, Shafqat Nazir was also killed. All three belong to the Sopore areas. Reyaz Ahmad Peer, son of Ghulam Nabi Peer, was a resident of Ningli Sopore and SPO Shafqat Nazir Khan son of Nazir Ahmad lived in Mundji Sopore. Reyaz is survived by two wives and six children. Sources said that the slain cop was slated to be married later this year.

Relatives in silent, of camera mourning of Riyaz Ahmad, BJP’s Municipal Councillor who was killed in a militant attack, at Sopore on Monday, March 29,
KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

After the attack, Kashmir Police Chief visited the area and was part of the wreath-laying of the slain cop. He also had a meeting with the local army officers and the CRPF. He told reporters that the two-member hit squad comprised an unidentified foreigner and a local Lashkar militant, Mudasir Pandit. A mixed contingent of the police and paramilitary forces laid a cordon and search operation. However, there was no report of any breakthrough. He has said that action may be initiated against the cops who were protecting others and avoided reacting to the attack.

Condemnations

The attack was condemned by the BJP and Apni Party. General Secretary, (Organization) of the J&K BJP, Ashok Koul while condoling with the bereaved families of the slain duo termed the attack as a “cowardly act by the militants”. These attacks, he said, will not bring down the morale of the BJP leadership on the ground.

Expressing solidarity with the slain persons’ families, Apni Party’s Mohammad Ashraf Mir condemned the killings. “This inhuman attack on elected representatives of the people can fetch nothing except for bringing more chaos and agony to the people,” Mir was quoted saying in a statement. He has urged the government to take serious cognizance of this incident and take all precautionary measures for the security of activists irrespective of their political affiliation. “This unfortunate incident has taken place when the whole world is going to observe Shab-e-Baraat. Kashmir has already witnessed enough of death and destruction in the last over three decades. Now, this mindless violence should end somewhere so that people can heave a sigh of relief.”

Kar, in the meanwhile, said the attack needs to be probed. He said it also needs to be investigated why the MC Sopore is not being permitted to have its elected president and why the authorities are not probing swiftly the huge corruption in the MC. “I know the MC office invited the councillors for the meeting but it needs to be investigated, who invited the militants,” Kar asked.

Police Version

“Today at about 1310hrs Sopore Police received information about a terror crime incident near SDH Sopore where terrorists had attacked Municipal Councillors. Senior Police & CAPF officers along with their teams immediately reached at the terror crime spot.

Preliminary investigation revealed that terrorists had fired indiscriminately upon the Municipal Councillors near Lone Building opposite SDH Sopore resulting in injuries to two Municipal Councillors namely Reyaz Ahmad Pir & Shams-ud-din Pir and a police personnel namely Shafqat Nazir. However, among the injured Councillor Reyaz Ahmad and police personnel Shafqat Ahmad succumbed to their injuries and attained martyrdom. Meanwhile, another injured councillor has been shifted to hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Inspector-General of Police Kashmir Vijay Kumar addressing a press conference in Srinagar on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

It is pertinent to mention that post terror attack, IGP Kashmir Shri Vijay Kumar-IPS visited PD Sopore and inspected the scene of terror crime. Thereafter, he chaired a security review meeting with Commander 5-Sector RR, DIG CRPF and SSP Sopore.

The main focus of meeting was today’s attack by the terrorists in Sopore Town and the necessary security measures to be taken to counter such terrorist attacks. While interacting with the officers, the IGP Kashmir urged upon the participating officers that it is of crucial importance to enhance security of vulnerable persons and to take all necessary measures to thwart away the nefarious designs of terrorists.

Preliminary investigation indicates that a local terrorist Mudasir Pandit of proscribed terror outfit LeT along with a foreign terrorist are involved in the said attack. However, further investigations are rigorously going on. IGP Kashmir also took serious note of the poor and inappropriate retaliation by the PSOs of protected persons present on spot and directed SSP Sopore to put four PSOs under suspension.

Later on, in order to pay honour and respect to these martyrs, a wreath-laying ceremony was held at DPL Sopore where floral tributes were paid to the martyrs. Senior officers of Police/SF laid floral wreath on the mortal remains and paid rich tributes to the martyrs.

Police has registered a case in this regard under relevant sections of law and officers continue to work to establish the full circumstances of this terror crime. Cordon and search operation at various locations is going on to nab the assailants.”

(Ghulam Hassan contributed to the report from Sopore)

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