3 cops abducted, killed in Shopian

Police blame Hizb, LeT; 7 SPOs publicly dissociate from police: Officials say resignation videos ‘rumour-mongering’

ABID BASHIR/GULZAR BHAT
Srinagar/Shopian, Publish Date: Sep 21 2018 11:01PM | Updated Date: Sep 22 2018 1:33AM
3 cops abducted, killed in Shopian3 cops abducted, killed in Shopian

Three policemen were found dead in Wangam village in southern Shopian district on Friday morning, hours after their abduction by suspected militants, triggering a wave of panic in the area and strong reaction from New Delhi which cancelled the proposed foreign minister-level talks with Pakistan. Another abducted person, who turned out to be brother of a policeman, was however set free.

The slain police personnel were identified as constableNisar Ahmed Dhobi, a resident of Kapran village in Shopian, and special police officers Kuldeep Singh and Firdous Ahmed Kuchay, both residents of Batagund village of the district.

A witness said that locals from Wangam spotted the bodies of policemen early in the morning.

A police official told Greater Kashmir that the fourth person, identified as Fayaz Ahmed, brother of policeman Nisar Ahmed Bhat, was set free. “All the slain policemen had gone to their homes on leave,” the official said. 

The official said that while bodies of Nisar and Firdous were laid to rest at their ancestral graveyards, the body of Kuldeep Singh couldn’t be cremated as his family members were in Jammu.

“The moment his family members would arrive, we will perform his last rites,” said a close relative of the slain policeman.

According to witnesses, the killing of three policemen triggered fear across southern Kashmir, with several policemen who had gone to their homes on leave seen packing their bags to resume their duties.

“It’s better to join my duty back. Staying home can be troublesome,” said a policeman in a southern district, who’s posted in Srinagar.  “Two of my colleagues have also decided the same.”

The killing of policemen comes close on the heels of an audio message released by HizbulMujaideen’s operational commander RiyazNiakoo on Thursday, asking special police officials to “quit their jobs or get ready to face consequences.”

Earlier, on August 29 and 30, militants had abducted at least 11 policemen and their relatives from four southern districts—Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag—following alleged vandalism of properties at militants’ homes by the government forces. Naikoo’s father Asadullah, 72, was also detained for questioning at a local police station and later released alongside the release of the relatives of policemen.

The Friday’s killings forced many SPOs in the southern districts to announce their resignations, though the union ministry of home affairs and the J&K police denied any such move.

At least six videos surfaced on social networking sites, immediately after the Wangam killings, wherein policemen were seen announcing their resignations from service. But the police termed these videos as “rumours.”

Talking to reporters, the director general of police Dilbag Singh, while calling the killing of three policemen as “very unfortunate”, said: “This is an act of desperation on part of militant outfits. In the recent past, police carried out successful operations where militants sustained big jolts. The SPOs become soft targets when they go to their homes on leave.”

“I strongly condemn this act,” he said. “As far as the rumours (about resignations of policemen), people shouldn’t pay heed to these things. They (SPOs) are important part of the police department and their role is laudable. We are looking into the rumours (about cop resignations).”

He said that many schemes in favour of SPOs would be unveiled soon.

Asked why SPOs are being targetted, the DGP said that they are low-ranking officials who are bound to visit homes for varied reasons.

“Catching these innocent people is highly condemnable. Those involved in the act will be traced and punished,” the police chief said.

In a video message earlier, the DGP said that there is a 30000-strong force of SPOs working across the state.

“They are doing a wonderful job. Their killing is a propaganda move by militants as they have been doing it in the past,” Singh said. “These SPOs are doing their duties in the interest of people and their role is quite appreciable. We stand by them in this hour.”

About resignations, he said: “I think this all is a rumour-mongering kind of a thing. If there is anything, that will be looked into. Government does recognise the contribution of SPOs in maintaining peace and order in the state. As a token of duties performed by the SPOs, there is a big scheme for them under active consideration of the government.”

POLICE STATEMENT

In a statement, a police spokesman said militants abducted three policemen in Shopian and later killed them “brutally in an inhuman act of terror.”

“Bodies of all the three policemen were retrieved and wreath-laying ceremony was held at DPL Shopian. Police have registered a case in this regard. Preliminary investigation reveals the complicity of proscribed militant outfits HM &LeT in this barbaric act of terror. Further investigation is going on to identify the culprits,” the spokesman said.

Civil and police officers led by Kashmir range inspector general of police Swyam Prakash Pani laid floral wreaths and paid rich tributes to the slain policemen.

“Among others, DIG SKR, SSP Shopian, SSP Awantipora, SSP Kulgam, SSP Pulwama and other officers and policemen were present,” the spokesman said.

‘7 SPOs from Awantipora resign’

By the end of Friday, seven special police officials working with the railway police announced their resignation at Jamia Masjid in Reshipora area of Awantipora on Friday, locals said.

These include Zahid Farooq, MyserGulam, Ishfaq Genie, Ajaz Ahmad, Ishfaq Ahmad, Parvaiz Ahmad and Ajaz Rahman, they said. Police again described these announcements of dissociation from the department as rumour-mongering.

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