June 2017 News

Lynch Mob Stones To Death On-duty Dy SP In Srinagar

23 June 2017

Srinagar: Shock, anger and outrage have gripped Kashmir after a lynch mob stoned to death a deputy superintendent of police (Dy SP) while he was performing security duties at the historic Jamia Masjid during Shab-e-Qadr (night of prayers in Ramzan) in Srinagar on Thursday night. Fifty-seven-year old Mohammad Ayub Pandith of the third security battalion of Jammu and Kashmir Police was stripped, paraded and then lynched by a violent mob shouting slogans in favour of Zakir Musa, one of the most-wanted terrorists who recently quit the Hizbul Mujahideen and had called for a caliphate in Kashmir. Hundreds of people used stones and sticks to hit the officer, badly mutilating his body. When cornered by the irate crowd, Pandith fired some rounds from his service pistol in self-defence but even that failed to deter the bloodthirsty mob. Three people were injured in the firing. Director General of Police (DGP), Jammu and Kashmir, Shesh Paul Vaid said the Dy SP was posted to protect the people at the access control (entry point to the mosque) so that anti-social elements did not vitiate the atmosphere during namaz. 'Some people from among those he was protecting lynched and martyred the officer. It is very unfortunate. The man who was protecting them was lynched,' Vaid said. The initial reports collected by the police said that the officer was coming out after inspecting the security arrangements when some anti- social elements raised slogans and overpowered him, the DGP said. 'He was then brutally beaten and lynched,' he said. Vaid said two people have been arrested and the third has been identified. 'They will have to face the law. The DSP had a pistol and a policeman has the right to self defence when somebody attacks him. He has the legal right to fire to save himself,' he said. Additional Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police, (Security), Dilbag Singh told DNA that the officer was part of the special deployment made for Shab-e-Qadr. 'There was a mob which was misbehaving and shouting slogans. Some people spread false rumours that he was from some agency when he was performing the security duty. He was dragged and beaten till he died. His weapon was also snatched,' he said. A pall of gloom has descended on the Pandith household at Nowpora in the old Srinagar city. A grieving wife, an inconsolable daughter and distraught son are unable to come to terms with the brutal lynching of their dear one. In fact, the family was preparing to celebrate Eid as the officer's daughter, who is pursuing MBBS overseas, had specially flown to Srinagar to join the festivities. 'It was first time he was posted in Jamia Masjid. He has been known to the people in the area given that he was duty officer in Zadibal police station in mid-nineties. He was so down to earth that he would never travel in an official vehicle,' said Mohommad Abdullah Pandith, brother of the slain officer. Born in Nowpora in April 1960, Pandith completed M Com and LLB before joining the police department in 1990 as a sub inspector. After completing his basic training in 1992, he was posted in Pulwama district. 'The officer served as SHO of different police stations. He was promoted as DSP in 2013. During his career, he has served different wings of district police, railways, vigilance and security in different capacities. He had received many appreciations for his work and conduct,' a police spokesman. Some initial reports said that the moderate Hurriyat Conference Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was inside the mosque and continued with his sermon when the officer was being beaten to death. Farooq, however, denied that he was present in the mosque at the time of the incident. 'I reached the mosque at 12.15 am while the incident had happened before that,' he said. Condemning the incident, Farooq said, 'Mob violence and public lynching are outside the parameters of our values and religion. The violence that the state has wreaked on us is largely responsible for this kind of brutality, as the police is being used against the people in the most brutal way which leads to brutal reactions,' he said. J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti warned the people of severe backlash if the police loses its patience. 'What can be more shameful than this (lynching of the officer). I want to say that J&K Police is one of the best police forces in the country, they are brave but they are showing maximum restraint (while dealing with the law and order situation) because they feel that they are dealing with their own people. But, for how long?' she asked. National Conference working president Omar Abdullah also condemned the incident. 'I am personally anguished and devastated by this tragedy. That this happened on the most auspicious night and outside Jamia Masjid is shocking,' he said. 'Such heinous elements are the enemies of Kashmiriyat and humanity and should be given the sternest possible sentence as per the law of the land,' he added.