November 2002 News

Striking on Mosques, militants kill 3 in Friday prayers

8 November 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Excelsior Special Correspondent

Srinagar: While as the well-wishers of militants in administration and politics are levelling ground for yet another ''Ramazan ceasefire'', militants have begun to strike on their targets in mosques. On occasion of the first Friday of the holy month of Ramazan, militants today gunned down three Kashmiri Muslims while performing their afternoon prayers at two different mosques in Anantnag and Kupwara. In Anantnag, however, angry people overpowered and disarmed the assailant, thrashed him mercilessly and handed him over to Police. Like hundreds of devout Muslims, SPO Javed Ahmed Walow S-o Abdul Karim Walow of Poshwara (Anantnag) was performing his Friday prayers at a mosque near KMDA Bus Stand, at Anantnag. Since the mosque interior was packed to capacity, Javed and over a hundred others had formed the ranks for the Friday prayers on the metalled road outside the mosque. Suddenly, an unidentified young man whipped out his 9 mm pistol and fired three shots on Javed, who seemed to be his target. He fell in a pool of blood and died on spot. Even as the shootout spread panic among the people busy in prayers, Constable Qamar-uz- Zaman of Anantnag Police, who was also in the prayers, mustered courage and pounced upon the gunman. He struggled hard to escape but two more Police personnel came to the constableís help and overpowered the gunman. Suddenly a large number of people snatched away the gunman from the clutches of the three Policemen and thrashed him to the extent that he fell unconscious. When Police attempted to rescue the assailant, angry people attacked even the Police. In the scuffle, three Police personnel, including Dy SP Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Andrabi, sustained injuries. Finally, Police managed to take the unconscious militant in custody. He was admitted at District Hospital of Anantnag where he was in coma even at midnight. Residents of Anantnag and a number of counter-insurgent Ikhwanis gathered at the hospital to identify the captured militant. However, nobody had identified him till late tonight. According to a wireless intercept, he was some Zahid of Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit. According to reports, Javed Ahmed Walow was a former counter- insurgent who had lately been engaged as an SPO. In a similar incident, an unidentified gunman appeared at Wawoora village in Lolab valley of Kupwara district and assimilated in the crowd of the people performing Friday afternoon prayers at the local mosque. While the people were in the thick of prayers, the gunman fired upon SPO Mushtaq Ahmed Beig of the same village, who was also in the prayers. Beig and another civilian sustained critical injuries and were rushed to hospital. However, a Class 12th student, Raja Kaleemulla of the same village, who was also performing the prayers, died on spot. Later, the assailantís real target, SPO Mushtaq Ahmed Beig, too succumbed to injuries. According to eye-witnesses, some people chased away the militant but he fired some shots and escaped alongwith two more of his associates. Mushtaq Ahmed Beig was a surrendered militant who had been engaged as an SPO. Authorities believe that a host of militant-friendly measures by the PDP-led coalition Government has brought about a degree of relief in the common people but the same has simultaneously emboldened the militants who are now striking at will. In the last 13 years of insurgency, militants had been killing people while returning from mosques after performing prayers. This is for the first time that militants have had temerity to strike on the people performing prayers inside mosques. The twin incidents came on day two of the holy month of Ramazan. This is also for the first time that common people have captured an armed killer and almost lynched him to death at a mosque.


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