by Shams Irfan
SRINAGAR: At around 2 pm, suspected militants attacked a police picket guarding a cluster of homes where minority community was living, leaving three policemen dead and one critically injured in Zainpora belt of Shopian.
The injured policeman was rushed to Shopian hospital, from where he was referred to Srinagar for advanced treatment, but succumbed on way.
The attack on the police picket came weeks after Shopian belt witnessed a series of encounters in which over two dozen local militants were killed. Officials identified slain policemen as Abdul Majeed Ganaie, a resident of Ganderbal; Hameedullah Ganaie a resident of Islamabad; Mehraj-ud-din Dar, a resident of Bandipora and Anees Ahmad Mir, who lived in nearby Soutch village in Kulgam. The killing of four policemen in the attack has left their families devastated.
The picket was guarding three Pandit families who stayed back in the 1990s. Zainpora, now a tehsil headquarter, had a mixed population and before militancy around forty per cent of the population comprised on Kashmiri Pandits. Most of them migrated but a few families stayed put.
“Entire area is in shock because of the attack,” said Ajaz Ahmad Mir, ex MLA, Wachi. “I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of those policemen who were killed in the attack.”
Who were they?
Abdul Majeed Ganaie is survived by his wife, five-year-old son, three-year-old daughter and a brother. He was the lone bread earner of his family. The second slain Hameed-ul-lah Ganaie had married just a month ago.
The third slain cop, Mehraj-ud-din Dar was unmarried. He is survived by his brother. He was the only source of income for his family. The fourth slain policeman Anees Ahmad Mir is survived by two siblings and a wife who is expecting a baby.
Police issued the following statement: “Terrorists in the afternoon today fired upon the guard post-deployed at Zainapora in District Shopian.
Terrorists fired indiscriminately on a guard post at Zainapora area of Shopian in which four Jawans sustained injuries. Three of the Jawans succumbed to the injuries and attained martyrdom in this incident while the other injured jawan has been shifted to the Hospital for medical treatment.
Area has been cordoned off and search has been initiated in the area.”
Additional DGP (Law and Order) Munir Khan and Kashmir Police Chief S P Pani drove to Shopian within minutes after the three killings. They were part of the wreath laying event that took place in the district police lines Shopian.
So far this year, 41 cops including nine SPOs were killed. These exclude the four cops who were gunned down today. Officials said the total number of security men killed this year was 81 of which 21 were killed in Shopian and Pulwama districts.
Governor Satya Pal Malik has expressed grief over the loss of lives of policemen in Zainapora.
In a message, Governor has prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and conveyed his sympathies to the bereaved families.
PDP President and former Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti has condemned the killing of three policemen in Zainapora. “Violence of last three decades or more has taken a heavy toll on the people of the state in terms of death and destruction, tearing apart of the social fabric, inflicting massive economic, academic and other losses besides the irreparable loss of human lives,” Mehbooba said.
Jammu and Kashmir National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah also condemned the killings.
“We have lost three of our brave cops while delivering their duties. I pay my heartfelt tributes to the three policemen and pray for the speedy recovery of those who are injured,” Omar said.
Omar while expressing concern said that a minority community which is putting up there should not feel apprehensive of their security.
Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant outfit on Tuesday in a statement issued to news gathering agency GNS, claimed the attack.
A JeM spokesperson Muhammad Hassan, according to a statement issued to news agency GNS, said, “As per initial reports, three Indian forces (personnel) have been killed while several others critically injured.”
Hassan, according to the statement, said they snatched four rifles from the cops.
In the morning police recovered the body of Shiraaz Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Laroo village, of Kulgam, who was kidnapped by suspected militants after an encounter, took place in his house on October 21, 2018, in which three Jaish-e-Mohammad militants and seven civilians were killed. A week later, according to police, some unidentified gunmen kidnapped Bhat from his home. Since then Bhat was missing. Today his body was recovered from an orchard near Awhatoo village of Kulgam. Police suspect JeM’s hand behind the killing of Bhat.
Laroo killing: Police version
SP Kulgam Harmit Singh shared the details of the recovery of the body in a press conference. Later, the police issued the following statement:
“On 21/10/2018, an encounter took place in the house of one Shiraaz Ahmad Bhat S/o Ghulam Mohd Bhat R/o Laroo, Kulgam, in which three terrorists of banned JeM outfit, were killed. Subsequently, on 27th of October-2018, some unknown terrorists kidnapped the above-said house owner from Laroo village with the intention to kill him. In this regard, Case FIR No. 177/2018 U/S 364, 120-B RPC, 7/27 Arms Act was registered at police station Kulgam and investigation was set into motion. During the course of the investigation, it was reliably learnt that terrorists have killed the above-quoted person after brutally torturing him with the help of some OGWs and also disposed off his dead body at some unknown location. During further course of the investigation, three suspected OGWs of JeM outfit were apprehended, who revealed the whole gamut/conspiracy of killing. The trio along with some other OGWs were active part of whole conspiracy/planning of killing along with active local/ foreign terrorists of JeM and HM outfit respectively. Upon disclosure and indication of apprehended OGWs about the place of burial of Shiraaz Ahmad Bhat, the police Kulgam recovered the dead body of later today morning on 11/12/2018 from an orchard near Awhatoo village of Kulgam, in presence of the executive magistrate and some respectable civilian witnesses. Moreover, Police Kulgam has also recovered one of the vehicles used in the commission of the offence, upon the disclosure of apprehended OGWs. Preliminary post-mortem findings of deceased suggest about bullet wounds and torture marks on his body parts. Based on instant progress in the investigation of the case, police Kulgam is in the pursuit of making more arrests and subsequent disclosures/recoveries are also expected in the case. Investigation of the case is going on and will be taken to the logical end shortly.”