A gravely wounded Jammu and Kashmir special police officer (SPO), Mohammed Younis, died in hospital on Tuesday morning, a day after suspected militants attacked his post in Doda district.
The gunmen fired around a dozen bullets from AK-47 assault rifles at Tanta police post and wounded Younis and another SPO, Kikar Singh, who were sleeping.
The duo was airlifted from Tanta, about 65km from Doda town, and brought to the government hospital in Jammu. Younis was kept under ventilator support in an intensive care unit after surgery, but couldn’t be saved as his wounds were far too grave.
Colleague Singh too is battling for his life with gunshot wounds in his neck. “A breathing pipe has been inserted in his neck. He appears to be critical,” medical superintendent Romesh Gupta said.
The attack has shaken officials and residents of Doda district, which was declared militancy-free in 2010 and has not recorded any insurgency-related violence since then.
Army, paramilitary and police teams were combing the mountainous district to track down the attackers.
According to Doda deputy commissioner Bhupinder Kumar it was not clear how many gunmen attacked the post.
Jammu zone inspector general of police SDS Jamwal said: “Police are investigating clues … spent shells of AK-series ammunition were found at the spot.”
The Doda attack is viewed as a reflection of the violence spreading from the restive Kashmir Valley to the Jammu region. The district was a hotbed of militancy in the 1990s.
The district has several village defence committees, which are groups guarding hamlets with the government’s support. But none of these groups are issued AK-series rifles to counter militants laced with heavy firepower.
Special police officers, or SPOs, are not regular policemen but are recruited to assist security forces. Their local knowledge and intelligence network have proved effective in dealing with militancy.
The state has a sanctioned strength of 30,000 SPOs and they are paid an honorarium of up to Rs 6,000 a month.