May 27, 2018, 11:07 pm IST
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The lynching and after

The lynching and after

 Jun 25, 2017

The lynching of a Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mohammad Ayub Pandith, posted outside a mosque in Srinagar, on Friday, by a mob has evoked widespread shock and condemnation across the state and the country.

‘What can be more shameful than this,’ said the State Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed. ‘I want to say that he is one of the best officers and our police force is one of the finest in the country and they have shown maximum restraint, because they feel they are dealing with own people,’ she said. ‘How long can this continue’ she asked as she laid a wreath at his burial.

‘The day their(the police) patience wanes, I believe things will get difficult and I want the people to understand this,’ she said.

The lynching took place while Mr. Pandhith was on duty at the Jama Masjid checking on the access to the place and clicking pictures when the mob allegedly mistook him for an informer and non-Muslim and attacked him. The devout across the state were observing Shab-e-Qadr (the night of power) with night-long prayers and supplications in mosques and shrines across the valley on this day.

‘The officer had gone there to protect the lives of the people and not for some personal work,’ the Chief Minister said. The Director-General of Police, Mr. SP Vaid, also pointed out that Mr. Pandith had been posted there to ensure that the prayers passed off peacefully while paying his tributes.

‘An SHO and five other policemen were killed a few days back and now this,’ the Chief Minister lamented. The Chairman of the Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, also condemned the killing. ‘We cannot allow such state brutality to snatch our humanity and values. I am deeply concerned and condemn this brutal act at Nowhatta area outside Srinagar. Such mob violence and lynching are outside the ambit of our religion and values.”

At least three persons were injured in the firing following the violence when the mob went on a rampage targeting security pickets in the area. These security restrictions were made in the seven police station areas as a precautionary measure in response to a call for protests after the Friday prayers over the killing of civilians in Kakapora area of Pulwama the previous day.

The exact cause of this murder is unclear and Jama Masjid has a history of violent protests during Shab-e-Qadr which have left policemen injured.

At least 42 people, including nine policemen, have been killed this month in the state, making it the bloodiest Ramzan in the valley in recent times.

For the Pandith family it could not have been more wrenching. His daughter studying for medicine in Dhaka had come for Eid and had wanted her father to be with them for the pre-dawn meal. Neighbours fondly remembered the humble police officer, whose nikah ceremony was solemnized by the Maulavi Faooque, then Mirwaiz of Kashmir, who as later assassinated.

‘There is nothing more shameful than this because the officer thought of this place as his own area and has told security personnel to go home for their prayers’, said the police chief, Mr. Vaid. According to him while going around the shrine the officer had noticed some people in masks outside and these were the ones who set upon him.

Ironically, some of the family members of Mr. Pandith are known supporters of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s family. And Mr. Pandith’s cousin, Mr. Mohammad Abdullah Pandit, a lawyer, had often defended the stone-pelters and separatists in the lower courts and is reportedly a staunch supporter of the separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Ghilani.

Incidentally, Umar Farooq had received a formal invitation to visit Pakistan from that country’s high commissioner. He had also denied a report that he had rejected offer of India’s a quiet diplomacy initiative.

After a four-hour meeting with the Pakistan High Commissioner, Mr. Shahid Malik, on the visit, he said he would be visiting that country after Eid. The invitation came while he was visiting the Jammu region to spread word about the peace process. He cut short his mission and rushed to Delhi. ‘I will not only meet the Pakistan government but also the opposition parties to carry forward the dialogue process with an open mind,’ he said. This is part f the process of Track II talks going on between the two countries at Bangkok and the initiative for composite dialogue again. It is believed that the Bangkok initiative has helped the two countries break the ice. The previous day two senior leaders of the Hurriyat, Sabir Shah Ahmed an Nayeem Khan, had rejected the dialogue process that India had initiated.

The recent spurt in violence in Kashmir was the aftermath of the killing of Burhan Vani, leader of th militant Hizbul Mujahideen, on July 6 last year. This led to anti-India protests across the valley and pellets were used for the first time, resulting in the deaths of 90 people, including militants and civilians, and injuries to 1600 people. One columnist had described it as Kashmir’s Intifada.

Pix courtesy: Rising Kashmir

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