Former Militant Parray Killed In J&K Ambush
13 September 2003
The Asian Age
Srinagar: The man who made possible many of the successes against the separatist militants by the Indian security forces, who indeed turned the tide in Jammu and Kashmir, is dead. Muhammad Yusuf Parray, alias Kuka Parray, the most prominent counter-insurgent, was killed in an ambush by militants along with two of his close associates at his hometown Hajjan in northwestern Baramulla district on Saturday afternoon. Five others accompanying Parray were also injured, and were struggling for life at a nearby military hospital, police sources said. Elsewhere in Kashmir, four Indian Army personnel, including an officer, and a militant were killed and seven soldiers injured in a suicide attack on a makeshift Army transit camp in the border district of Kupwara early on Saturday morning. Police and defence sources said a group of fidayeen stormed the camp located amid the shacks of nomadic herdsmen up in the Kupwara hills at around 5 am and targeted the soldiers with rifle fire and grenades. While an Army major and three soldiers died instantly, the condition of all seven others injured is critical. One of the suicide squad was also killed in retaliatory fire by troops. The injured soldiers were removed to a nearby hospital, and Army reinforcements launched a massive search operation in the nearby woods and hamlets to hunt the remaining fidayeen down. 'We are told that there were two fidayeen who carried out the attack by hurling grenades and firing automatic weapons at the sentry, and since one of them was killed the search for the other is on,' said a police official over the phone from district headquarters. The Army camp of the 5 Sikh Regiment is located at Neeli Dori of the Nowgam sector deep inside the mountains, and is only a couple of kilometres away from the Line of Control. In the Baramulla incident, the police and witnesses said Kuka Parray was on his way to a cricket match at Hajjan when the militants struck in the town bazar by hurling a grenade at him and then opening fire from automatic rifles. Kuka Parray and seven other injured persons were quickly removed to an Army hospital on the town's outskirts where he and two of his associates, Muhammad Akram and Ali Muhammad Dar, succumbed to injuries. Army and paramilitary reinforcements have launched a massive manhunt for the killers. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the act. A top state civil servant, divisional commissioner Parvez Dewan, had also been invited to the function but he returned here unharmed in the afternoon. Kuka Parray, who was in his late 40s, was himself a militant commander whose writ ran unchallenged in the Sumbal-Bandipore belt of Baramulla district during the heyday of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. Sometime in 1995, though, he came into contact with a local Army unit and soon switched sides. His quit the Ikhwan-e-Muslimeen outfit to create his own - one with an identical name Ikhwan-e-Muslimoon. Thereafter, he and his associates started working with the Army and proved extremely helpful in counter-insurgency operations. Without his help, many of the successes against the terrorists would not have been possible, a top official acknowledged. Kuka Parray, however, was accused of indulging in violence, loot and arson against his opponents and of vandalising the area's ecology felling thousands of trees or, at least, encouraging renegades involved in such acts. He would vehemently deny such charges and insist that his mission was to eradicate terrorism and the gun culture from Kashmir. Kuka Parray was elected to the state Assembly from his home constituency Sonawari in September 1996, but his critics - including the National Conference whose candidate lost to him - alleged that it was the security forces who made his victory possible through manipulation. As a legislator, though, Parray was a failure, which even his admirers acknowledged. He lost to the NC candidate in the last year's Assembly elections and was keeping a low profile ever since. His killing came a mere two weeks after one of his closest former associates Javed Hussain Shah was shot dead by militants here.