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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Missing Kashmir cop suspected of joining LeT after photo holding AK-47 surfaces

Isfaq Ahmad Dar announced last week on social media that he has joined the Lashkar-e-Toiba. He is the third security to join militant ranks this year.

india Updated: Oct 28, 2017 22:11 IST
Toufiq Rashid
Toufiq Rashid
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
(HT Photo)

A Jammu and Kashmir police constable is suspected to have joined the militant Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in what could be the third such switch by a security personnel in the Valley this year.

Police ordered a probe after the constable, Isfaq Ahmad Dar, last week announced on social media that he has joined the LeT, a Pakistan-based militant outfit blamed for several terror attacks in India.

A photograph of Dar holding an AK-47 assault rifle was also widely circulated on social media and messaging apps in the Valley over the past few days.

“There are reports we are trying to confirm. The matter is being investigated,” state police chief SP Vaid told Hindustan Times on Saturday. He added that police are yet trying to “know the facts”.

Many in Dar’s family, including his brother, are policemen, sources said.

More than 1,500 police personnel have been killed in the valley since insurgency broke out in 1989. In June, a deputy superintendent of police – Mohammed Ayub Pandith – was lynched by a mob outside Srinagar’s main mosque.

In recent months, several policemen have been killed or attacked and their homes ransacked by suspected militants, seen as warnings to local police personnel to stop participating in counter-insurgency operations. Six policemen including an officer were also killed in a militant ambush earlier this year.

Sources said Dar was shifted from Kargil to Kathua in July after adverse reports about his alleged “militant sympathies”.

“He was under police radar but we can’t arrest a person unless he does something,” a senior police officer said.

Dar, from a village in Shopian, had left his home to report back to duty last week.

When he did not reach Kathua, family lodged a missing person report. Soon after, the photograph of Dar surfaced on social media.

In May , a constable from Shopian, Syed Naveed Mushtaq, decamped with four service rifles and joined the militant group Hizbul Mujahideen.

Two months later, Zahoor Ahmad Thokar — who was with the 173 Territorial Army Engineering regiment at Baramulla — deserted his unit along with his service AK-47 and three magazines and joined militant ranks.

Such incidents were first reported in 2015 when two policemen Naseer Ahmad Pandith from Shopian and Syed raqib Bashir from Pulwama – joined the Hizbul Mujahideen, then led by former commander Burhan Wani, whose killing last year sparked months-long unrest in Kashmir.

Both of them were killed in separate encounters with security forces.

In early 2016, Shakoor Ahmad Parray of Shopian, a security guard to a police officer in Bijbehara, was arrested by police after he had ran away with four rifles to join a militant group.

Police said such incidents are rare and that most of the deserters are from South Kashmir, where anti-India sentiments run deep.

“Most of the policemen are from a particular patch in South Kashmir, mostly Pulwama and Shopian. They were recruited between 2010 and 2012 and may be not much background check was done,” a police official said.

“They are not radicalised... If they are radicalised they are capable of inflicting more damage in the forces...we have to keep our eyes open and our house clean,” the officer added.

Kashmir’s police force is hailed for its professionalism as its personnel are often forced to act against civilians, sometimes even minors, involved in protests and vandalism.

First Published: Oct 28, 2017 11:52 IST