The Jammu and Kashmir Police has initiated a probe after its personnel exhibited “laxity” during a militant attack on the residence of top Hurriyat leader Fazal Haq Qureshi in Srinagar. The attack, which took place on late Sunday evening, left one policeman dead. After the assault, gunmen fled the spot with the policeman's weapon. Two policemen were absent from the spot, while another one failed to retaliate to the militant attack, investigations have revealed.
According to police sources, among the five men posted for security duty at the separatist leader’s residence, four personnel, including a head constable, were to remain deployed there when the attack happened. However, on Sunday evening, when the militants attacked the house at around 7.15 p.m, two of the policemen were found to be absent from the house. They had informed their seniors that they had gone to the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) hospital as one of them was suffering from fever and cough. Another police constable was on leave. Thus, only two men were at the residence when militants attacked it.
Police officials said that one of the militants, who was part of a group, knocked on the main gate of Haq’s residence. As soon as a policeman came out, he was fired upon and militants managed to snatch away his weapon. The deceased policeman was identified as Farooq Ahmad Yatoo, who lived earlier at Chadoora in Budgam before the family moved to Shopian. Police officials who are investigating the case said that while the other policeman did not react as militants managed to flee from the spot, “two others were at the hospital.”
“One policeman went to a hospital as he was ill and another policeman accompanied him. When they returned, Farooq was lying in a pool of blood and the militants had fled from the spot. One more policemen was on leave, which is given to the personnel on a rotational basis,” an official said. “The entire attack was carried out in a few minutes,” he added.
Farooq was rushed to the nearby SKIMS hospital, where he breathed his last. A case of murder, weapon snatching and illegal use of arms was registered at Soura police station, said a senior official. He said that the investigation in the case is going on.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Srinagar, Imtiyaz Ismail Parrey, said that the militants attacked the guard post which was set up inside the residence of the separatist leader. “We have registered a case and the involvement of the policemen is being looked into through an internal mechanism,” he said.
Deputy Inspector General of police, Central Kashmir range, Ghulam Hassan Bhat, said, “ The policemen deployed for duty at the residence of Fazal Haq Qureshi will have to explain their conduct. The guards are supposed to react. If a guard man was not at the place, there should be a plausible reason for that. This calls for an inquiry.”
A day before the incident, police officials from Soura police station had carried out a security check and asked the policemen to remain on alert.
In December 2009, gunmen attacked Haq and a bullet had hit him in the head outside his residence. The attack had come nine years after he facilitated a dialogue between the central government and militants, which culminated in the declaration of ceasefire by a group of Hizbul Mujahideen militants. The dialogue, however, broke down after the United Jehad Council chief Syed Salahudin refused to support the ceasefire.
In August 2000, Haq met Union Home Secretary Kamal Pandey along with his party (People’s Political Front) leader Musadiq Adil and four militants at Nehru Guest house in Srinagar. After the 2009 attack, Fazal was unable to move without crutches, due to which he was represented by the chairman of PPF, Adil, in the meetings of the Hurriyat Conference.
Haq was earlier a general council member of the Hurriyat but was later elevated to its top decision-making body — the executive council — after a split in the conglomerate. The split took place as separatist leader and now Hurriyat (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, parted ways with the Mirwaiz-led faction “ over the proximity of some leaders with New Delhi.”
Updated Date: Feb 26, 2018 19:18 PM