‘Is this the azadi we are fighting for?’ Anger, disbelief among kin of J-K cop lynched by mob
Mohammed Ayub Pandith was lynched outside the Jamia mosque in Srinagar on Thursday, which was Shab-e-Qadr, an auspicious night for Muslims.india Updated: Jun 23, 2017 16:09 IST
Anger and disbelief was high among the near and dear of Mohammed Ayub Pandith, the Jammu and Kashmir police officer who was lynched by a mob in Srinagar on Thursday, as they tried to make sense of his killing.
“What state we have reached that we kill a person outside a mosque on an auspicious night without any reason? Is this what the religion has taught us?” asked a close relative of Pandith at their home in old city Nowpora.
Pandith was lynched outside the Jamia mosque in Srinagar on Thursday, which was Shab-e-Qadr, an auspicious night for Muslims when, according to belief, Quran was first revealed to Prophet Mohammed. People across the Valley were praying in mosques and shrines throughout the night.
“Is this the azadi (freedom) we are fighting for that we have started lynching people? What shall we do with such Azadi?” she asked.
People were perplexed at the manner he was killed.
“He was not killed by a militant or some military men. He was killed by a mob. They killed an innocent, a Tahjud Guzar (one who prays during the nights),” said one of the sisters-in-law of the slain officer.
She sought to know from the Hurriyat leaders what kind of society Kashmir has become.
“Our children are getting orphaned. They (the mob) did not just kill one person, but three more with him,” she said, referring to Pandith’s wife and two kids.
The slain officer, described as honest and down-to-earth by friends and neighbours, is survived by his wife and two teenage children.
His daughter is studying MBBS in Bangladesh while his son has been ill after completing higher secondary examinations. A cousin of his is a prominent member of the high court bar association in Kashmir.
The sister-in-law said that Pandith was an honest person who had “no craze of being a police officer”. “He would even polish his own shoes,” she said.
Pandiths are a prominent family in Nowpora, with many having their own businesses, including the slain officer’s two brothers. He also has three sisters.
Pandith started his career as a sub-inspector in the 1990s. He was working as a DSP in the security wing of Jammu and Kashmir police and had been at the mosque post for quite some time. Many locals who frequent the area knew him. Policemen posted in the security wing do not wear uniform as a matter of service regulation.
A shocked neighbour, Sajad Madni recalled how Pandith was a source of solace to everybody.
As reports emerged that Pandith’s guards had deserted him on seeing the size of the mob, Madni castigated the police for not providing him proper security on duty.
“He was left alone. He was left to die,” Madni said.
Not much is clear on how things unfolded after he got a call on Thursday evening from office to go to Jamia Masjid.
Director general of police SP Vaid said that Pandith was checking the access control in the area following a congregation.
“When he came out after checking, he was surrounded by some miscreants who started manhandling him and asking for his identification. Initial investigation revealed that there was an altercation and the officer fired to get away from the mob. He was, however, overpowered and killed near Bata Chowk in Nowhatta area,” Vaid said.
Some reports said that he allegedly pulled out his pistol and fired shots that injured three people. Vaid said two people have been arrested and third identified who are accused in the case.
Elder brother, Farooq Ahmad Pandith said that they got a call from an officer around midnight to check whether Pandith had reached home.
“He was not home and his phone was also switched off. We then received a call from SP (north city), saying he has been seriously wounded and is at the police control room. He was actually dead,” Farooq said.