An honest officer from a humble background, lieutenant Ummer Fayaz was the cynosure of all eyes in his Rajputana Rifles unit at Jammu district’s Akhnoor sub-division. And if he hadn’t been abducted and killed by militants on Tuesday, the strapping officer would have turned 23 this June.
Fayaz had gone to his home in Kulgam to attend the marriage of a relative when the incident occurred.
“The Army salutes the braveheart, and stands by the bereaved family in this hour of tragedy. It commits to bring the perpetrators of this heinous act of terror to justice,” said Defence spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia.
“Ummer was always full of josh (enthusiasm),” said a member of his unit. “He was loved by his colleagues, and performed every task allotted to him in an immaculate fashion.”
Colleagues in the army said the National Defence Academy (NDA) graduate wanted to take up a young officers’ course in September. The son of a small-time apple farmer, he was an integral part of the NDA’s hockey team during his time there. Well-built in stature and a thorough gentleman, Fayaz managed to impress everybody he came across.
“This incident is a grim reminder of the situation that prevailed in Kashmir during the peak insurgency days of the 1990s, when soldiers and paramilitary personnel used to be targeted,” said an army source, adding that there was an urgent need to choke separatists and terrorists who have been fuelling the Kashmir agitation.
The officer, however, saw a ray of hope in the overwhelming response to Army recruitment rallies in the Valley. “Kashmiri youth want jobs in their hands, not stones. Big turnouts at army rallies go to show that they favour development,” he said.
Meanwhile, nearly 113 of 1,385 applicants from Ramban district cleared ground tests in the ongoing recruitment rally at Doda Sports Stadium on Wednesday.
Candidates from Doda, Kastigarh, Bhagwah, Bharat Bagla, Thatri and Gandoh tehsils will be screened on Thursday, followed by those from Bhaderwah, Chirala, Assar and Marmat on Friday.