JEHANGIR ALI | 28 SEPTEMBER, 2016
Signals of Escalation: Assault Rifles Being Snatched From PSO's in Kashmir
SRINAGAR: A former lawmaker’s security guard was robbed of a Kalashnikov by suspected militants in south Kashmir, police said today, making it the fourth incident of its kind in the restive Valley this month.
According to police sources, the accused barged into the residence of Abdul Rehman Tukroo, a CPI leader, in Shopian district and snatched an AK-47 assault rifle from his personal security officer.
Police has identified the prime accused as Wasim Khanday, who is in his twenties, and it is being investigated whether he had any accomplices.
“The prime accused is a relative of Mr Tukroo and he has been on our radar for quite some time. We have filed a case against him and a probe is on to nab him,” a senior police officer said.
The incident comes days after suspected militants robbed four Kalashnikovs from policemen guarding the house of the ruling PDP’s district president, Advocate Javid Ahmad Sheikh, at Dialgam village in south Kashmir on September 18.
Police reports said the accused barged into the house of the PDP leader where they overpowered the guards, who were later suspended, before snatching their rifles.
The rifle-snatching incidents have gone up sharply in Kashmir Valley since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani, triggered a civil uprising across the region, leaving nearly 90 civilians dead and over 10,000 injured.
Police sources and residents of south Kashmir, which has been the centre of the current uprising, said most of the rifles have been taken away by young boys allegedly harassed by security forces and “inclined towards the path of violence”.
“Due to decrease in infiltration bids which brought arms and ammunition into Kashmir, snatching rifle from police and other security officials earns a ticket for joining militant ranks,” an officer in J&K Police’s CI Department, said.
The increase in rifle snatching incidents has send alarm bells ringing in J&K’s security establishment which was battling the trend of well-educated boys belonging to financially sound families joining militant ranks over the last two years.
According to reports, over the last three months, around 100 youths from south Kashmir districts of Kulgam, Shopian, Anantnag and Pulwama, the home district of Burhan Wani, have or are in the process of joining militant ranks.
On September 8, suspected militants snatched four rifles from the security officers of National Conference leader Abdul Rashid Khanday in Begom village of south Kashmir’s Kulgam.
Police later suspended four officials for “cowardice” and dereliction of duty. Earlier in
August, unknown suspects snatched four rifles from PDP leader and Rajya Sabha MP, Nazir Ahmad Laway’s residence in south Kashmir. An annexe to Laway’s house at Kulgam was also set on fire in the process.
On June 30, police questioned a BJP leader whose personal security officer was robbed of his service rifle by suspected militants in central Kashmir’s Chadoora.
(Cover Photo: A Jammu and Kashmir policeman Shakoor Ahmed decamped with four AK-47 rifles in January tihis year and was suspected to have joined militant ranks, police sources told the media at the time. This photograph of Ahmed went viral on the social media)