Young Kashmiri Army Officer Abducted, Killed While on Leave

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Srinagar: A young Kashmiri army officer on leave was abducted and shot dead by suspected militants in Shopian district where he had gone to attend a wedding function.

Lieutenant Umar Fayaz Parray, according to his relatives was picked up by unidentified gunmen from his maternal home at Matribugh Batapora village of Shopian district and his dead body was found on Wednesday morning at Harmein hamlet of the same district.

22 year old Umar, who hailed from Sursona village in Kulgam district, had gone to attend the wedding of the daughter of his maternal uncle at Batapura from where he was abducted by the unknown militants at around 10 pm last night, officials said.

His family members told the police that they did not inform anybody about the abduction as they were hopeful of his release after a possible warning, which has been the case with policemen in the region, senior officials said.

Relating the sequence of events a close relative of the slain officer said: “On Tuesday Umar visited one of his relatives in Anantnag and later on he went to his maternal home where her mother Jameela Bano was already present. At around 9:30 on Tuesday evening, some unknown gunmen barged into the house and asked Umar to accompany him.

When family members requested them to leave him, they assured that after questioning he will be released. After an hour, we heard some gunshots. Whole night we couldn’t sleep and on Wednesday morning news reached to us that Umar’s bullet riddled body has been found in Harmain village,” he said.

Harmen is about three kms from his house, the officials said.

The autopsy report showed marks on his body, indicating that he had resisted the militants who abducted him, the officials said.

He was fired at from a close range, and the bullets had hit his head and stomach or chest region.

Residents said two masked men entered the house and asked Fayaz, who was unarmed, to accompany them.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley described the abduction and killing as “a dastardly act” of cowardice.

“This young officer from J&K was a role model,” Jaitley said in a tweet.

Fayaz, described by top army officials as a promising officer, was commissioned in the armys Rajputana Rifles regiment in December last year and was availing the leave for the first time to attend the marriage.

He was supposed to return to his unit in Akhnoor area of Jammu on May 25.

The body of the officer was laid to rest with full military honours. His funeral was attended by several people from his village.

Born on June 8, 1994, Fayaz had studied at Navodaya Vidyalaya, a branch of government schools for gifted students, at Ashmuquam in South Kashmir. He belonged to the 129th batch of cadets from the prestigious Pune-based National Defence Academy.

This was for the first time that he had taken leave after joining the Army, a senior official said.

Major General B S Raju, the General Officer in Command of the Victor Force, responsible for counter-terrorism in South Kashmir, has directed all its units in and around the area to launch a manhunt for the killers.

General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of South Western Command Lt Gen Abhay Krishna, who is the Colonel of the Rajputana Rifles, said, “the complete army fraternity stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the bereaved family at this tragic hour.”

He also assured the family that “perpetrators of the heinous crime and dastardly act will not be spared.”

He said the incident “marks a watershed moment in Kashmir Valley and people of Kashmir will decisively turn the tide against terrorism.”

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, while condemning the killing, said, “what was more painful to note is that the young officer had come home on vacation where he was attending the marriage of his cousin.”

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi also condemned the killing and said those who tried to defeat what slain army officer Ummer Fayaz stood for, would be themselves defeated.

“The entire nation shares the grief of Fayazs family, friends and colleagues. My heartfelt condolences,” he said.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also condemned the incident and said the situation was “very sad and alarming” which needed an urgent attention from the Centre.

Family sources said that the officer had passed National Defense Academy to become Liteunant. “His father is a famer and small time apple businessman, and he is survived by two younger sisters,” they said.

Stone Pelting

After postmortem, the body was handed over to his family at Sudsoonu Kulgam. Reports said that youth pelted stones on police party when the rifle of a cop allegedly went off accidentally, a report refuted by a police official. Witnesses added that government forces fired some shots in air to disperse the stone-pelters.

Reports said that some top army officials visited the bereaved family. The army virtually cordoned off the area to maintain order. Gun salute was given to the slain army officer.

A large number of people participated in his last rites. He was buried with full military honours.

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