The spring calm was shattered in Srinagar on Friday when suspected militants alighted in old city and shot dead a police officer from a close range. Assistant sub inspector Sukhpal Sing was fired at old city’s congested locality of Darish Kadal early in the morning.
“Singh was fired upon by pistol-borne militants from a close range, leaving him in a pool of blood. He was shifted to nearby hospital but succumbed to injuries,” said a senior police officer.
At least three bullets were fired at the police officer towards abdomen. Despite throwing a cordon in the area, the police were not able to nab the culprits, who melted away in the narrow lanes of the area.
J-K home minister Nasir Aslam Wani and director general of police Kuldeep Khuda were part of the guard of honour and wreath laying ceremony at Srinagar police headquarters to pay homage to the policeman.
Singh, a resident of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, is survived by mother and spouse.
Friday’s attack came just almost a month after a youth blew himself in a car in south Kashmir on March 22, injuring 14 civilians.
A little known militant outfit Islamic Front has claimed responsibility for the killing. “The cadres of Islamic Front carried out the attack. Such attacks will continue in the future,” said Sheikh Jamsheed, who claimed to be the militant outfit’s spokesman.
A senior police officer refused to comment on the outfit's claim. “The matter is under investigations. We are trying to find out who did it,” said the officer on the condition of anonymity.
The life was thrown out of gear temporarily in the area and picked up pace as the day passed by.
Condemning the attack, opposition Peoples Democratic Party spokesman Naeem Akhtar said, “Such killings don’t serve any purpose except for creating personal tragedies. Such attacks have been daring and carried out in broad day light in busiest areas of the city.”
The spokesman mocked at the government claim that Srinagar is a militancy free area. “On one hand, the government had declared Srinagar as militancy free and on the other such incidents were creating a scare and the government’s inability to solve these cases or prevent their recurrence is leading to more uncomfortable inferences than such crimes in normal circumstances would,” said Akhtar.
Despite the attack, the security forces went ahead with the evacuation of 23-year-old security installation at Palladium Cinema in Lal Chowk, six kilo metres away from the site of the incident.
“Instead of CRPF bunker, a police post will come up there,” said DGP Khuda.
There was a consistent campaign by local shopkeepers, demanding removal of the bunker from the erstwhile famous cinema hall. Most cinema halls were taken over by security forces in 1990 when militancy broke out.
Around 43 major bunkers have been removed in Srinagar since the 2010 decision of phased thinning of troops from residential areas by Union home minister P Chidambaram and chief minister Omar Abdullah.