A twenty-two-year-old officer with the Rajputana Rifles of the Indian Army, Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz, was kidnapped from his home in Jammu and Kashmir a and shot dead by terrorists on Tuesday night.
A farmer's son, Lieutenant Fayaz was commissioned into the Indian Army in December 2016. He was from South Kashmir's Kulgam district and was home to attend his cousin's wedding.
An honest officer from a humble background, he full of josh ( enthusiasm) and was loved by his troops. He was immaculate in performing his tasks and honest to the core," is how 2 Rajputana Rifles, Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz unit remembered him.
The Indian Army said, Lieutenant Fayaz of the was abducted from Batapura near Behibag at about 8 pm on Tuesday. His bullet ridden body was recovered from the Herman Chowk in Shopian district – around 30 km from his village - on Wednesday morning. His terrified family had hoped that Lieutenant Fayaz would be set-free and hadn't reported the abduction immediately.
In a statement released this morning the Indian Army said it will "bring the perpetrators of this heinous act of terror to justice."
Lieutenant Fayaz was in the hockey team of the National Defence College (NDA) and was an excellent volleyball player. He was tipped to go for a Young Officers' course this September, the Indian Army said. "An honest officer from a humble background, he full of josh ( enthusiasm) and was loved by his troops. He was immaculate in performing his tasks and honest to the core," is how the Rajputana Rifles, Lieutenant Fayaz's unit, remembered him.
Ironically, the kidnapping and killing of Lieutenant Fayaz comes at a time when youth of the valley – now seeing an unrest for the second consecutive year – have flocked recruitment centres of the Indian military and para-military.
There are only few reported instance of soldier's – of the Indian Army or Central Para-military forces - being kidnapped and killed in this fashion. And, all date back to 1990s
Kashmir watchers, many of who have served in the valley see this killing as a "water-shed." There are only few reported instance of soldier's – of the Indian Army or Central Para-military forces - being kidnapped and killed in this fashion. And, all date back to 1990s – the initial days of violence and terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. Then, as Russia withdrew from Afghanistan, Pakistan backed Mujahideens were diverted to Jammu and Kashmir.
In 1991, Lieutenant Colonel G S Bali and his cousin were kidnapped from Badgam where they had gone to attend a funeral and killed. In 1994, a solider of the Border Security Force (BSF) was kidnapped from the Doda and his bullet ridden body was dumped in Anantnag district.
"Rarely, if ever, has a solider of the Indian army been kidnapped from home and killed," a senior officer who has served in the valley for many years, but didn't want to be named, told HuffPost India. "Equally rare," he added, "is video footage of a Kashmiri-man being strapped to a military van." The situation in the valley "is sliding", the environment is vitiated and "the rules of engagement are being violated," he added.
Indian security forces, after a gap of nearly a decade and half, have again started to "cordon and search" villages and hamlets as the unrest and terror attacks in the valley threaten to spin out of control
"Boys like Ummer are symbols for having gone against anti-India and military narrative in the valley,"
Earlier this March, the Chief of Jammu and Kashmir Police, SP Vaid, warned of consequences for families of militants if relatives of policemen were attacked. The warning by Vaid came days after militants ransacked the house of a police officer in Shopian.
"Boys like Ummer are symbols for having gone against anti-India and military narrative in the valley," senior officials in the security establishment told HuffPost India. "We suspect that Pakistan-based terror groups like the Lasker-e-Toiba (LeT) to be behind this," the officer said.
Also, This shows emergence of new kind of terrorist in the valley. They are willing to risk the safety and security of their families, the local population to send a message
"This never happened," Arun Choudhary, who has served in valley for many years said. Choudhary belongs to group of officers who fought and stemmed the onslaught of the Hizbul-Mujahideen, Harakar-ul-Ansar, and Harkat-ul-Jehad in the 1990s and early the 2000s.
"It is becoming dirty," he said. Choudhury feels the abduction and the killing, in part, is a message to the military which has adopted a tough posture externally - along the Line-of Control (LoC) - and internally with an aggressive counter-insurgency position.
"Importantly, this is message to those locals who are with the Indian state," he said. "Also, this shows emergence of new kind of terrorist in the valley. They are willing to risk the safety and security of their families, the local population to send a message," he said.
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