23-year old Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz was killed off duty, while attending his cousin’s wedding
Insurgency-racked Kashmir’s fragile social compact, already under severe stress, could experience further strain after armed militants abducted and murdered a young, off-duty army officer, who was visiting his home in South Kashmir.
Army officials say 23-year old Lieutenant, the son of a Kashmiri apple farmer from Sursana village in Kulgam District, had taken leave from his unit near Akhnoor, in the Jammu region, to attend his cousin sister’s wedding on Tuesday, in her village near Shopian.
Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) Police sources recount that, while the festivities were in full swing, at about 10 p.m. on Tuesday night, four men in civilian dress arrived and asked to talk to Fayaz. Since they were apparently unarmed, he quietly left with them.
When Fayaz did not return after an hour, the village began searching for him. Early on Wednesday morning, his body, bearing two gunshot wounds, was found near Harmen village.
Fayaz is the latest and most high profile casualty of an ongoing militant drive to dominate and control South Kashmir. So far, this has consisted of intimidation and violence directed at the homes of J&K Police personnel, who have been instrumental in controlling militancy over the years. Recently, the J&K Police chief warned policemen from South Kashmir against visiting their homes.
Yet, Lieutenant Fayaz, knowing well the precarious security situation in South Kashmir, regularly visited his family in the dangerous districts of Kulgam and Shopian. Similar is the case with thousands of Kashmiri soldiers and policemen who serve in the military and the central armed police forces (CAPFs).