Srinagar: The identity of a man injured in a gunbattle between militants and security forces in Kashmir Wednesday became a subject of controversy as police claimed he was a militant, but his family denied the charge.
Two militants and a CRPF constable were killed in the gunbattle, which took place in the morning on the outskirts of Srinagar.
The injured man has been identified as Umar Fayaz. Police claimed Fayaz belonged to the lesser-known Jammu Kashmir Islamic State (JKIS), which has pledged allegiance to the West Asia-based terror group Islamic State. However, his family said he was just a shopkeeper.
A statement issued by police in the evening didn’t name Fayaz, only saying that a “third militant” was injured in the gunbattle. It instead dwelt on the antecedents of the two militants killed, identified as Zia-u-Rehman Wani of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Khateeb Dass of Hizbul Mujahideen.
But at a press conference earlier in the day, Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbag Singh had identified the “third militant” as Umar Fayaz of JKIS. Singh said Fayaz was injured and taken to a local hospital.
Giving details of the gunbattle, the DGP said the “three militants” were travelling to Srinagar from Baramulla on a scooter when they were stopped at a checkpoint on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway near Lawaypora.
“They were stopped at the checkpoint, after which one of the militants started firing from his pistol, killing a CRPF trooper. A brief shootout then ensued in which two militants were killed on the spot and the third one was injured and shifted to a hospital where he is being treated,” said Singh.
CRPF special director general Zulfikar Hasan, who was also at the press conference, said one of the militants riding pillion opened fire even before the CRPF trooper said anything to them. “He immediately took his pistol out and shot the CRPF constable in the head,” Hasan added.
The trooper was identified as Ramesh Ranjan, who hailed from Bihar. He died on the spot.
J&K Police claimed the three men seemed to be a part of a group possibly planning to carry out attacks in Srinagar.
‘Fayaz was shot by security forces outside his shop’
Refuting police’s claim, Fayaz’s family said he was shot by security forces outside his shop.
“I was at home and Umar was at his shop. He came inside my home bleeding. He had a bullet wound in the back and told us that he had been shot,” said Hamida Bano, Fayaz’s aunt. “My son, our neighbour and I took him to hospital. We were even stopped at a checkpoint in Shaltang area for around half-an-hour. Umar would have succumbed in the car, but fortunately we reached the hospital on time,” she added.
Asif, Fayaz’s cousin, said their car was only allowed to pass after they convinced the security personnel at the checkpoint that they were civilians.
“I had to show my Aadhaar card as proof,” said Asif.
Asked to comment on the claims made by Fayaz’s family, Kashmir Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar was dismissive. “No family will say that their son is a militant,” he said.
Around 20 militants killed so far in J&K
Speaking on the militancy situation in Kashmir, DGP Singh said at the press conference that security forces had killed around 20 militants in J&K since January this year. Three security personnel also died in the line of duty, he added.
The militant fatalities, Singh said, included three Jaish-e-Mohammad members killed last week in Nagrota.
The three men, who police believe were part of a “fidayeen” squad, allegedly crossed over into India through the international border in Jammu.
The DGP further said that an IED was recovered near Nagrota. According to him, the driver of the truck in which the militants were being transported to Kashmir was using VPN to access a messaging service to communicate with his handler in Pakistan.
“The driver had, in fact, sent an image to Pakistan of them being intercepted,” Singh said.
This driver was identified as Sameer Dar, a cousin of Adil Dar, the alleged Jaish-e-Mohammed operative who carried out the Pulwama attack last year that killed 40 CRPF personnel.
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