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Kashmir policeman decamps with four rifles, statewide hunt launched

Sources said constable Syed Naveed Mushtaq might have run away to join militant ranks

india Updated: May 21, 2017 22:05 IST
Abhishek Saha
Abhishek Saha
Srinagar, Hindustan Times
Kashmir policeman,Syed Naveed Mushtaq,Jammu and Kashmir
Over 60 weapons were reportedly snatched from policemen ever since unrest began in the Valley following the death of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani in July last year. (AFP Photo )

A massive manhunt has been launched in Jammu and Kashmir after a police constable decamped with four rifles in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Saturday ostensibly to join militant ranks.

Confirming the decamping, deputy inspector general of police, central Kashmir, Ghulam Hassan Bhat told HT constable Syed Naveed Mushtaq took away four self-loading rifles.

Mushtaq, a native of south Kashmir’s Shopian district, had joined the police force in 2012.

Sources said he might have escaped to join a militant outfit.

In a statement, militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen congratulated Mushtaq for snatching the weapons and said it welcomes him to its fold.

Hizb’s operational spokesperson Burhanuddin told local news agency CNS, “We salute the valour and bravery of Naveed. He is a true soldier of freedom struggle and we salute him.”

He was further quoted as saying that people like Mushtaq were “an asset to the nation” and they will continue “to join our struggle”

Mushtaq was deployed on guard duty outside Food Corporation of India facility at Chandpora in Budgam district.

Sources said apart from his own service rifle, Mushtaq also stolen rifles of his three other colleagues.

Some reports claimed that one of Mushtaq’s relatives is a militant, but police did not confirm this piece of information.

Over 60 weapons were reportedly snatched from policemen ever since unrest began in the Valley following the death of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani in July last year. But most of them, police sources add, had been recovered.

In a video released in October last year, Wani’s purported successor Zakir Rashid Bhat had asked the Kashmiri youth to snatch weapons from government forces to join the militant outfit.

Nearly 90 people joined militancy in Kashmir in 2016. Most of the recruits are reportedly from the volatile South Kashmir region.

In a similar incident, a personal security officer (PSO) of a deputy superintendent of police in Anantnag district escaped with four service rifles in January last year.

After the killing of 22-year-old army officer Ummar Fayaz in south Kashmir earlier this month, a top cop had said that investigators found two empty cases of Insas rifle cartridges that were probably snatched from policemen a few days ago.

Earlier this month, suspected militants had barged into a court complex in Shopian district and snatched five weapons from the guarding policemen.

In March, suspected militants snatched at least four rifles from policemen guarding the residence of a senior People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Farooq Andrabi in Dooru, Anantnag.

Militants took away four service rifles of security guards of PDP district president in Anantnag in September last year.

Four rifles were snatched from police men guarding the house of a former National Conference (NC) leader in Begam village of Kulgam district in the same month.

Again in September last year a local political leader’s house in Bugam village of Kulgam was attacked and a rifle was snatched from the police personnel on duty.

First Published: May 21, 2017 16:16 IST