Srinagar: Stone pelters on Wednesday clashed with security forces during the last rites rituals of the 22-year-old Kashmiri Army officer, who was abducted from a family wedding in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district before being killed by terrorists.
The martyred soldier, Ummer Fayaz, was on leave and visiting his native place in Kulgam to attend the marriage of his maternal uncle’s daughter in Batapura village when militants kidnapped the unarmed officer around 10 pm on Tuesday.
His bullet-riddled body was found on Wednesday morning at Harmen in Shopian district. The officer, from Rajputana Rifles, had joined the Army only in December last year.
On Wednesday, about two dozen demonstrators pelted stones in an attempt to disrupt the funeral procession of the officer when his body was being laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard with full military honours, police said. The protesters were chased away by police.
Colonel of Rajputana Rifles condemned the killing and assured befitting reply to the guilty terrorists.
“This marks a watershed moment in the Kashmir Valley and people of Kashmir will decisively turn the tide against terrorism,” said Lt Gen Abhay Krishna, Colonel of Rajputana Rifles and General Officer Commanding in Chief of the South Western Command.
In a condolence message, he said the Army fraternity stood by the grieving family. “I assure the family that the perpetrators of this heinous crime and dastardly act will not be spared.”
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley called it a dastardly act of cowardice by terrorists.
“We share the grief of the family and stand in solidarity. (The officer) will continue to inspire the youth from the Kashmir Valley,” he said.
“His sacrifice reiterates the nation’s commitment to eliminate terrorism from the Valley.”
Despite seemingly unending militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, a large number of young Muslims from the Valley continue to join the Indian Army and paramilitary forces. Muslims are also in majority in the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti condemned the killing. “It was more painful to note that the officer was on leave and had come to attend the marriage of his cousin.”
A hockey and volleyball player, Fayaz had passed out from National Defence Academy and was to go for the Young Officers’ Course in September. He was posted with the Rajputana Rifles in the Akhnoor sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
“In a dastardly act, some unidentified terrorists on Tuesday abducted and then killed a young, unarmed army officer,” Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.
An advisory was earlier issued by the Jammu and Kashmir Police asking its personnel not to visit ancestral homes, especially in south Kashmir areas.
There has been a spike in militant activity in south Kashmir districts of Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag and Kulgam.