Civilian, policeman killed by militants in separate attacks with guns

Srinagar: Rouf Ahmad Khan, a property merchant, had left his home to buy cookies for his five-year-old daughter on the evening of Wednesday 23 December. As he walked alongside a vehicle parked by the side of the road, suspected militants fired several bullets. Some of the bullets hit Rouf, fatally injuring him.

“When the shooting stopped, I left my house to find him lying on the road in a pool of blood. He was probably dead and someone had put a shroud over his body. But no one touched him until the police arrived and took him to hospital, ”said Manzoor Ahmad, a neighbor, adding that the vehicle was also hit by bullets.

A senior J&K police officer said the incident happened at 5:15 p.m. in the crowded Merjanpora locality in downtown Srinagar, Safakadal. “The officers present [to] the scene of the crime learned that unidentified terrorists had fired on… Rouf. He was seriously injured by gunshot in this terrorist incident and was immediately evacuated to [a] nearby hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, ”a statement from J&K police said.

As news of Rouf’s tragic death spread throughout the city, a veil of sadness fell over the town of Merjanpora. Hundreds of men and women gathered at the family residence, comforting his inconsolable mother and wife, even as neighbors began preparations for the last rites.

“Why did you leave me alone in this world, Roufa?” Shazia, his wife, cried out in shock, as women in her family and women in the neighborhood comforted her, “Who will take care of your daughter and your mother?” Please bury me in his grave. I don’t want to live anymore.

Shazia, wife of the killed civilian Rouf Ahmad. Photo: Faizan Mir

Rouf was the sole breadwinner of his family. He is survived by his elderly mother and younger brother, Sajad Ahmad Khan, as well as his wife and daughter. Rouf’s father died when he was young.

The attack came days after Rakesh Balwal, a senior National Investigation Agency police officer who investigated the deadly suicide bombing in Pulwama in 2019, took over police forces in the area. city ​​of Srinagar. The city has once again become a hotbed of activism, a year after it was declared free from activism.

As Rouf’s family waited for police to return his body to him, suspected militants struck again within 30 minutes, this time in the southern Kashmir town of Bijbehara, where Mohammad Ashraf, a deputy deputy inspector J&K Police Officer, was shot dead near a police station. “In this terrorist crime incident, he was shot and immediately transferred to hospital for treatment of his injuries, but he succumbed to his injuries and became martyred,” the police statement said. .

“An investigation is underway and agents continue to work to establish all the circumstances that led to these terrorist crimes. The respective areas have been cordoned off and searches in these areas are continuing, ”the statement added.

A wreath laying ceremony was held at police headquarters in Awantipora district in southern Kashmir in honor of the slain Deputy Deputy Inspector after which his body was returned to the family for the last sacraments.

Heartbreaking scenes were seen in downtown Srinagar when Rouf’s body reached his residence on Wednesday evening. His wife and mother tried to prevent mourners from taking him to the funeral bath, pleading for another glimpse of his face.

“Wake up Roufa, wake up,” his shocked wife, Shazia, repeatedly shouted, pulling and pushing her husband’s body as other women urged him to be patient.

At the cemetery, Sajad, Rouf’s younger brother, sat in complete silence next to the empty beer that contained his brother’s body. With the burial process over and the cemetery nearly emptied, Sajad looked down at the grave. A trickle of tears rolled down her cheeks. He turned to his few remaining relatives and asked them to return home, wishing to spend some time alone in the cemetery with his deceased brother.

The two attacks came just two days after a senior Lashkar-e-Tayyabba commander from the city of Karachi in Pakistan was shot dead during a meeting in the locality of Harwan on the outskirts of Srinagar, making him the third foreign activist to be shot dead in Srinagar in a month. Police had linked the Lashkar commander to recent killings of civilians in Kashmir.

In October of this year, which was the worst month for civilians in Kashmir since 2012, a series of targeted attacks and the ensuing precarious security situation forced hundreds of migrant workers and pundits from Kashmir to flee the valley.

The number of killings of civilians in Kashmir has risen steadily to a four-year high of at least 41 victims this year, including political workers, reportedly killed by militants. The figures for 2018, 2019 and 2020 are 39, 39 and 37 killings of civilians respectively, according to official data recently shared by the Union government in parliament. Two civilians were also killed by the CRPF.

Data also shows that around three dozen security personnel have been killed by militants at J&K, with the majority of killings reported in the Kashmir Valley. This includes at least 19 J&K police personnel, many of whom have been targeted by militants while off duty.

Sajad Ahmad, brother of the killed civilian Rouf Ahmad, weeping near the coffin. Photo: Faizan Mir

Security agencies have linked the sudden increase in attacks on civilians and security personnel to the change in tactics of militants who have recently been seen using small firearms, instead of large automatic rifles, to attack their targets.

Earlier, a PTI report said that “almost all terrorists involved in the killings of civilians” in October were shot dead by security forces. “… the armed forces are now focusing on intelligence-based ‘surgical operations’ involving smaller teams to deal with terrorist activities on EU territory,” the report said.

Meanwhile, J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha condemned the attacks in a series of tweets. “Deeply saddened by the barbaric and cowardly terrorist act in Srinagar and Anantnag. I strongly condemn this heinous attack on civilian Rouf Ahmad and JKP officer Mohd Ashraf. The terrorists and their masters responsible for these killings will soon be brought to justice His office tweeted.

“Such a barbaric terrorist act will not succeed in undermining J & K’s development journey. Our deepest condolences to the bereaved families. The government is standing with families and friends during this difficult time, ”Sinha said in another tweet.

The National Conference also condemned the two murders. “Unambiguously condemn the militants’ attacks against ASI Muhammad Ashraf in Bijbehara and civilian Rouf Ahmad Khan in Eidgah in which both were killed. Our hearts go out to their families, friends and colleagues. May Allah grant them a place in Jannat, ”the party tweeted.

Former J&K chief minister and leader of the People’s Democratic Party, Mehbooba Mufti, tweeted: “No end in sight for this cycle of bloodshed and violence in Kashmir. Sincere condolences to their families. Allah (SWT) jannat naseeb karein. Améen.

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