The Jammu and Kashmir police have held a local module of the Hizbul Mujahideen responsible for the killing of a 22-year-old Army officer in South Kashmir’s Shopian district on Tuesday night.
Inspector general of police Javeed Gillani said investigators have recovered two empty INSAS rifle cartridge cases used for the crime. A probe was on to check if they were same cartridges snatched from policemen a few days ago, he added.
Gillani, however, refused to disclose the names of those behind Rajputana Rifles officer Ummer Fayaz’s abduction and murder. “A local Hizbul Mujahideen module was involved. Though we have identified the militants, their names cannot be revealed immediately,” he said.
Lieutenant Fayaz was kidnapped from a relative’s house in the midst of a wedding ceremony, and shot dead the same night. Witnesses said the army officer was taken away while he was sitting with the bride, even as more militants waited outside the house.
A farmer’s son, Fayaz had been commissioned into the Indian army in December 2016.
“Although police are yet receive the post-mortem report, preliminary examinations revealed that there were no torture marks on his body,” Gillani said.
This was the most recent incident in a series of militant attacks witnessed by the strife-torn state since the beginning of this year. Five policemen and two bank guards were shot down by militants in an attempt to rob a cash van at the beginning of this month. On April 24, militants shot the PDP’s district president for Pulwama, Abdul Gani Dar, with an assault rifle from a close range. A former public prosecutor affiliated with the National Conference was also killed in Shopian district the same month.
According to police, five political workers have been attacked in the Valley since March.
Jammu and Kashmir police have identified Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants involved in two bank robberies across south Kashmir’s Pulwama district recently. “The two militants involved in the Kulgam killings have been identified as Umar Majeed and Farooq Ahmad. Their posters have been put up across south Kashmir,” said a senior officer.
Although police claimed that the LeT was involved in the May 1 attack on the cash van, Hizbul Mujahideen owned up to the crime. The outfit claimed that they did not do it for the cash, or kill the bank guards.
Police said the lines separating militant groups have blurred, and they are now working together against the establishment. “These militants function independently, and even handlers from across the border don’t have a lot of control over them,” said a senior officer.
Police said that of the 200 militants active in Kashmir, around 88 are local youth hailing from South Kashmir. “These home-grown, self-trained militants are armed mostly with rifles taken from policemen. They are a paranoid lot who need to create an environment of terror to survive,” said Gillani.