Kashmiri Army officer on leave abducted, killed by militants

Dastardly act', says Jaitley; Army vows to punish killers
Report by: 
10 May 2017

A young Kashmiri Army officer on leave was abducted and shot dead by militants in Shopian district where he had gone to attend a wedding function, triggering anger among the locals who demanded action against the killers.

Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz, 22, who hailed from Sursona village in Kulgam district, had gone to attend the wedding of the daughter of his maternal uncle at Batapura, about 74 kms from here, from where he was abducted by the militants at around 10 pm last night, officials said. The family members did not inform the police or the army about the abduction of the unarmed officer as the militants had threatened them against doing so. His bullet-riddled body was found this morning in Harmen area, about three kms from his house, the officials said.

The autopsy report showed marks on his body, indicating that he had resisted the militants who abducted him, the officials said. Fayaz was fired at from a close range, and the bullets had hit his head and stomach or chest region. Locals said two masked men entered the house and asked Fayaz, who was unarmed, to accompany them. The killing caused anger among locals who demanded that the men responsible be identified and punished. Defence minister Arun Jaitley described the abduction and killing as "a dastardly act" of cowardice. "This young officer from J&K was a role model," Jaitley said in a tweet. Fayaz, described by top Army officials as a promising officer, was commissioned in the army's Rajputana Rifles regiment in December last year and was availing the leave for the first time to attend the marriage. He was supposed to return to his unit in Akhnoor area of Jammu on May 25.

Fayaz's family members told the police that they did not inform anybody about the abduction as they were hopeful of his release after a possible warning, which has been the case with policemen in the region, senior officials said. The body of the officer was laid to rest with full military honours. His funeral was attended by several people from his village. Born on June 8, 1994, Fayaz had studied at Navodaya Vidyalaya, a branch of government schools for gifted students, at Ashmuquam in South Kashmir. He belonged to the 129th batch of cadets from the prestigious Pune-based National Defence Academy.

General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of South Western Command Lt Gen Abhay Krishna, who is the Colonel of the Rajputana Rifles, said: "the complete Army fraternity stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the bereaved family at this tragic hour." He also assured the family that "perpetrators of the heinous crime and dastardly act will not be spared." He said the incident "marks a watershed moment in Kashmir Valley and people of Kashmir will decisively turn the tide against terrorism." Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, while condemning the killing, said: "what was more painful to note is that the young officer had come home on vacation where he was attending the marriage of his cousin." Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also condemned the killing and said those who tried to defeat what slain army officer Ummer Fayaz stood for, would be themselves defeated.

"The entire nation shares the grief of Fayaz's family, friends and colleagues. My heartfelt condolences. His memory will never be forgotten. Those who tried to defeat what he stood for, will themselves be defeated," Gandhi said on Twitter. Former chief minister Omar Abdullah also condemned the incident and said the situation was "very sad and alarming" which needed an urgent attention from the Centre. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee today expressed sorrow at the killing of the Army officer and said violence is never a solution. "Extremely saddened at the murder of Lt Umer Fayaz by terrorists in Shopian. My sympathies with the family. Violence is never a solution," she said in a tweet.