Massive outrage as police officer beaten to death in Kashmir capital

DSP killed in mob attack at Jamia Masjid Srinagar; CM says if policemen lose patience, ‘older days’ will return; Mirwaiz calls it a brutal act; Governor voices concern, to convene crucial meet; Omar, Rahul, others condemn incident

Shabir Ibn Yusuf
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jun 24 2017 12:30AM | Updated Date: Jun 24 2017 9:56AM
Massive outrage as police officer beaten to death in Kashmir capitalPhoto: Habib Naqash/GK

An officer of J&K police was lynched by a mob outside historic Jamia Masjid in Downtown Srinagar during Shab-e-Qadr, the night of power, drawing massive outrage from political and social circles. Two persons have been arrested in connection with the officer’s killing while the state police chief vowed to punish the culprits. 

The deceased officer was identified as deputy superintendent of police, Muhammad Ayub Pandit, of Nowpora here.

Though there were conflicting reports about the incident that led to the police officer’s killing, police said the officer was on “access control duty” when he was attacked. The incident took place at around 1 am. However, police could not identify their officer till his son called on his cellphone on Friday morning. Initially it was given out that he was an officer of CRPF’s intelligence wing, but his body was later taken to Police Control Room here for identification and medico-legal formalities.

A witness said people confronted Pandit, who was not wearing the uniform, outside Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta. “He drew out his pistol and fired at people, injuring three youth, while his colleague fled from the scene,” he said. “Some youths at this point immediately pounced on him, snatched his weapon while more people came and started beating him.”

Some reports said the police officer was allegedly clicking pictures or videos when people confronted him. A police official however refuted this claim as baseless.

Police called Pandit’s killing as “shocking.”

“The officer was cornered by an unlawful assembly of people and lynched,” a police officer said.

Pandit was posted in 3rd security battalion of J&K Police.  Policemen posted in the security wing say they don’t wear uniform “as a matter of service regulation.”

The police have now registered a case vide FIR No 51/2017 Under Section 302 (murder) in Police Station Nowhatta.

Two youth identified as Muhammad Danish and Mudasir Ahmad have been arrested in connection with Pandit’s killing.

Taking to reporters on the sidelines of slain police officer’s wreath-laying ceremony, J&K’s director general of police Dr SP Vaid said: “Those involved in the lynching of the officer will face the law.”

The DGP said Pandit was posted at the access control of the Masjid to prevent any act of vitiating the atmosphere so that people could offer prayers in peace. “But a few among those, for the security of whom the officer had been deployed, lynched him to death. It is very unfortunate,” he said.

“The line between humanity and inhumanity is fast diminishing. People need to distinguish between good and bad,” he said. “Preliminary investigations have revealed that mob attacked the DySP when he was coming out of the Masjid after checking the access control.”

Asked whether the slain officer was there for security of Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who usually delivers sermons at the Masjid on Shab-e-Qadr, the DGP said: “Mirwaiz does go there. It was a sacred occasion on Thursday and thousands of people were expected at the Masjid and security was made for them.”

Defending firing by the officer in which three people were injured, Vaid said the DySP was carrying a pistol and had the right to defend himself.

Pandit was laid to rest at his native place in Nowpora where a huge number of people including the police officer’s friends and relatives attended his Nimaz-e-Jinaza.

Inspector General of Police Munir Ahmad Khan, DIG Ghulam Hassan Bhat, SSP Srinagar Imtiyaz Ismail, SSP Security Maqsood-ul-Zaman and other senior officers and civilians attended the last rites.

 

PROFILE

In a statement, a police spokesman said: “Ayub was born in Nowpora in April 1960. After pursuing M.Com and LLB, he joined the Police department in 1990 as sub-inspector. After completing his basic training in Udhampur in 1992, the officer was posted in district Pulwama. Thereafter, he served as SHO of different police stations.”

Police said he was promoted as DySP in 2013. “During his career, he has served different wings of District Police, Railways, Vigilance and Security in different capacities. He had received many appreciations for his work and conduct.”

The officer is survived by his wife, unmarried son and daughter.

 

MEHBOOBA WARNS PEOPLE

Calling the lynching of a police officer in Srinagar as a shameful act, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday said in case the police lose patience, old days will come back.

Taking to reporters on the sidelines of wreath-laying ceremony of the DSP, Mehbooba said J&K has one of the finest police forces who exercise maximum restraint while dealing with law and order situations. She said a Station House Officer, along with five policemen, was killed some days back in Achabal, Anantnag, and now DSP Pandit has been lynched.  

“Isse bada sharmnaak vakya koi ho hi nahin sakta (There can’t be a bigger shameful act than this),” she said.

The chief minister warned that in case J&K policemen lose patience, “older days will be back.”

“Agar ye saluk karenge inka, agar inka sabar jawab dega to phir shayad purana waqt wapas ayega jahan sadak pe ‘gypsy’ dekh ke logon ko bhagna pade (If they (mob) behave like this, if they (police) run out of patience, then old days will come back when people use to run when they saw a police gypsy).”

The chief minister also said that despite the constant attacks by militants on police, they are deployed for security and safety of citizens.

“The officer was doing his duty and was there to protect his people,” she said, adding that his murder is “actually a murder of trust.”

She appealed to people to think about the day the patience of police fades. “I believe things will be difficult. I appeal to people that there is still time and we should understand. The police force is our own force, they are our children,” the chief minister said.

In an official statement issued later, the chief minister strongly condemned lynching to death of Pandit by an unruly mob outside historic Jamia Masjid here during Shab-e-Qadr.

Terming the incident as highly shameful, she said what is unfortunate is that the police officer was posted at the grand mosque for its protection and facilitation, security and convenience of devotees and was killed during Shab-e-Qadr, the night of divine blessings and seeking Allah’s forgiveness and His generosity.

By this act of cowardice, the chief minister said the perpetrators have brought “disrepute to the tolerant and accommodative nature of Kashmiri people.” She appealed to people in general and members of civil society in particular to rise to the occasion and “isolate these criminal elements who are giving Kashmir and Kashmiris a bad name.”

Later, the chief minister visited District Police Lines Srinagar where she laid floral wreath on the body of late Pandit. She interacted with the officers of J&K Police and family members of the DySP and consoled them.

Minister for Rural Development Department, Abdul Haq Khan; Minister for Education, Syed Altaf Bukhari; Minister for R&B, Naeem Akhtar; Chief Secretary, BB Vyas; DGP, Dr S P Vaid; senior officers of civil administration and Police, family members of the slain officer and a large number of people were present on the wreath laying ceremony.

 

GOVERNOR EXPRESSES CONCERN

J&K governor NN Vohra expressed grave concern over the continuing attacks on personnel of J&K police. He is convening an emergency meeting with the Chief Minister to discuss the issue, an official spokesman said.

“Early today morning, on learning about the gruesome killing of Muhammad DSP Ayoub Pandith, the governor spoke with S P Vaid, Director General of Police, and conveyed his sincere sympathy to the family of the slain officer and to all ranks of the J&K Police,” the spokesman said.

 

GRUESOME, BARBARIC: NIRMAL

Deputy Chief Minster Dr Nirmal Singh strongly condemned the killing of Pandit, terming it as gruesome and barbaric.

“The perpetrators of this heinous crime have depicted their sadistic and inhuman nature and need to be condemned by everyone,” he said.

Expressing solidarity with the bereaved family, Singh prayed for the eternal peace to the departed soul.

 

MIRWAIZ CONDEMNS LYNCHING

The Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Friday strongly condemned the lynching of the police officer, saying the “brutal act is outside the parameters of our values and religion.”

“The incident that happened in Nowhatta (in Downtown Srinagar) outside the historic Jamia Masjid, which has always been a center of spiritual and moral upliftment, is most unfortunate.”

“I am deeply disturbed by this brutal act. Mob violence and public lynching is outside the parameters of our values and religion,” Mirwaiz said in a statement. “It is very important and imperative for us that we do not allow our social fabric to be brutalised and keep our basic values intact.”

Earlier, the Mirwaiz tweeted: “Deeply disturbed and condemn the brutal act at Nowhatta.... We cannot allow state brutality to snatch our humanity and values.”

He said such incidents are “detrimental for our freedom struggle.”

“If GOI (Government of India) really wants an end to tragedies in Kashmir, let it initiate steps to address the Kashmir dispute and it will find the resistance leadership and people most forthcoming in joining that endeavour,” he said.

He said “we have been repeatedly asking New Delhi to address the Kashmir dispute and initiate steps to resolve it so that bloodshed of Kashmiris and those killed at Line of Control (LoC) is stopped, but to no avail.”

He also attacked the media.       

“As usual, the media mill has found grist in this sad death to further its propaganda against the resistance leadership and the movement. They are even reporting falsely that when the incident happened I was present in the masjid. I reached there at 12.15 am while the incident had happened before that,” he said.

 

INCIDENT MARKS NEW LOW IN JK: RAHUL

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi termed the lynching of the deputy superintendent of police as "horrific", saying the incident “marked a new low in the state.” He lamented that the state had gone back several decades due to the “complete failure” of the PDP-BJP combine there.

“The brutal lynching of Deputy SP Md Ayub Pandith marks a new low.  Pained beyond words at the horrific incident,” he said on Twitter. “Heartbreaking to see J&K being pushed back several decades because of the complete failure of the PDP/BJP government.”

Gandhi has been on a vacation abroad to meet his grandmother where he also celebrated his birthday.

 

CULPRITS SHOULD BURN IN HELL: OMAR

Condemning the lynching of the police officer, National Conference’s working president Omar Abdullah said the people behind the “travesty” should “burn in hell.”

He said the killing of Pandit outside the Jamia Masjid was height of barbarism.

“I am personally anguished and devastated by this tragedy. That this happened on the most auspicious night and outside Jamia Masjid is shocking,” he said.

“His death is a tragedy & the manner of his death a travesty. May the people who lynched DySP Pandit burn in hell for their sins,” Omar wrote on Twitter.

“I am personally anguished and devastated by this tragedy. That this happened on the most auspicious night and outside Jamia Masjid is shocking. Such heinous elements are the enemies of Kashmiriyat and humanity and should be given the sternest possible sentence as per the law of the land,” he said in a statement.

The former chief minister of the state announced a donation of Rs 10 lakh on behalf of the party and also a month's salary as MLA to the Police Welfare Fund “to support families of such martyrs.”

“We are all duty-bound to stand with the family of the martyred police officer and also the Police department in this hour of mourning and grief,” Omar said.

On instructions of Omar, the NC’s provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani and state spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu attended the wreath-laying ceremony of the police officer.

 

UNHOLY ACT: JITENDRA

The lynching of the police officer is an “unholy” act in the pious month of Ramadhan, Union minister Jitendra Singh said on Friday.

“If this is a war in the name of religion, can there be more irreligious acts like this. And if this is the war in the holy name of Islam, can there be a more unholy and un-Islamic act than this in the holy month of Ramzan?” Singh said.

“"What is being witnessed in Kashmir today is cumulative consequential series of pitfalls, blunders and experiments done by the Congress governments when it was at the helm both at the Centre and in Jammu and Kashmir, either alone or in coalition, for nearly half-the-century,” the minister alleged.

Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir BJP while condemning the lynching said the police officer was killed by people he was protecting.

“Henchmen of a few people derive sadistic pleasure by lynching and killing people just to appease their bosses sitting across the Line of Control (LoC),” state BJP spokesman Khalid Jehangir said.

PDP’s general secretary Rafi Ahmad Mir while condemning the incident said “humanity is at its lowest ebb and there is no place of such barbaric and inhumane acts within the parameters of Islam.”

“Those who did this are enemies of Kashmiris,” he said.

PDP leader and Minister Molvi Imran Raza Ansari announced diversion of his one-month salary to the family of the deceased police officer.

Asserting that killing of the DySP won’t help perpetrators of this brutal act to earn the blessings of Almighty Allah, Ansari said lynching to death a police officer deployed for security of people during the night of forgiveness is a “unpardonable crime.”

PDP youth leader Arif Laigaroo also condemned the lynching incident.

 

MORE CONDEMNATIONS

Strongly condemning the lynching of DySP at Jamia Masjid, J&K Congress expressed deep sorrow over the unfortunate incident.

“Whatever happened yesterday is inhuman and cannot be tolerated. Congress strongly condemns the innocent killings in any form,” a Congress spokesman said.

President Peoples Democratic Front and MLA Khansahib, Hakim Muhammad Yasin condemned the killing of the DySP, calling it as “inhuman and un-Islamic.”

He also expressed solidarity with the bereaved family and patience to them to bear the loss.

Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN) president and former minister, Ghulam Hassan Mir also condemned the lynching of the police officer.

He termed the incident as “unfortunate and inhuman.”

 “On one side, people were seeking forgiveness and blessing from Allah while on the other, people lynched a senior police officer to death, which is condemnable,” he said.

Senior PDP leader and Member Parliament (Rajya Sabha), Fayaz Ahmad Mir condemned the lynching of DySP. “I strongly condemn the incident and express sympathy with the bereaved family,” he said.

CPI (M) senior leader and MLA Kulgam, Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami Friday condemned the lynching of the Deputy Superintendent of Police.

He termed the incident as “terrible and criminal.”

 “It deserves condemnation from all quarters. I appeal to my people that they must openly voice their condemnation over this heinous crime,” he said.

“Cruelty is cruelty. Cruelty in any form is unacceptable,” Tarigami said.

Seeking a time-bound impartial probe into death of Pandit, Awami Itihad Party (AIP) has accused Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of “crossing her domain by using provoking remarks.”

In a statement, party spokesman Inam-u-Nabi said: “The circumstances which lead to the death of police officer are itself controversial and suspicious; how it is possible that an officer of the rank of Deputy Superintendent could roam free without any security guards, in one of the most volatile areas during the night.”