Unknown gunmen shot dead a retired deputy superintendent of police outside a mosque in Srinagar soon after Friday prayers. Unidentified gunmen, whose number the police were not able to ascertain, fatally shot Abdul Hamid Bhat around 1:45pm outside Masjid Bilal in Batamaloo area, adjacent to the commercial hub Lal Chowk.
"As the retired police officer emerged from the mosque after saying his prayers, he was shot at. He died on the spot," said Kashmir IGP Shiv Murari Sahai.
The victim had retired last year as DSP and was a resident of Moominabad colony in Batamaloo area.
Eyewitnesses said that bystanders rushed to the spot after hearing shots but found Bhat had died on the spot. The incident triggered panic following which police and CRPF reinforcements were rushed to the area to seal the area and search for the gunmen involved in the attack.
No militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Bhat was sub-divisional police officer of highly volatile old city area that comes under Maharaj Gunj police station during the 2008 street agitation. The police station was a major lock-up for stone-throwers, picked up during the agitation period.
In October 2009, 11 boys arrested on charge of stone-pelting had alleged that they were forced into sodomy and the act was filmed on mobile phones by security personnel posted at the police station.
The local court had taken cognisance of the matter and boys underwent medical examination. The boys were arrested on October 27, just a day ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the state. "Police took them to the court to give testimony. If the police were involved, will they take them to the court?" the slain police officer had told Hindustan Times in 2009.
Sources said police were looking into all possibilities in the killing, including criminal angle and rivalry, besides militancy. "It's Kashmir and the real motive will be known only after investigation is completed," remarked a police officer on condition of anonymity.