Family, Colleagues Remember ASI Mohd Ashraf Dar, Killed by Militants in J&K
Assistant Sub Inspector Dar was killed by militants outside Bijbehara police station, where he was on duty.
Inside a jam-packed tent of women mourners in Awantipora township of south Kashmir, 32 kilometers from Srinagar, newly-wedded Nazima Ashraf is inconsolable and seeking answers about the killing of her father.
Her father Mohammad Ashraf Dar, an assistant sub inspector of Jammu and Kashmir police, was killed by militants on the evening of Wednesday, 22 December, outside Bijbehara police station, where he was on duty.
Dar was killed 30 minutes after militants shot dead a property dealer, Rouf Ahmad Khan, in Srinagar’s Safakadal area.
“Khan was killed at Merjanpora Safakadal in the downtown area of the city. He received grievous gunshot injuries and was immediately evacuated to nearby hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries,” a police spokesperson told The Quint.
According to the spokesperson, a wreath-laying ceremony was held at the District Police Headquarters Awantipora for slain ASI Dar, following which, his body was handed over to the family for last rites.
Inside a three-storey house located on the brim of old Srinagar-Jammu national highway the entire Dar’s family is in shock.
Slain ASI’s wife Gulshana couldn't stop crying as she sat among women mourners.
“I spoke to him only a day before and today he had to come home. We never know he will return to us as dead,” said a teary Nadeem Ashraf, Dar's son.
Nadeem has no answers why his father was killed but he responded by saying that his father was amicable and friendly. “I do not know why he was killed but all I can say is that he was jolly and friendly. Before being killed, he was not even warned by anyone because everyone knows his record, ” Nadeem told The Quint.
He recalled that on Wednesday evening, when he finished evening prayers at the mosque, he had two missed calls from his father. “Despite repeated attempts, my calls went unanswered until I reached home. In a moment, some neighbours broke the news about the killing of my father.”
“About 6:10pm on Wednesday, unidentified militants fired upon Dar near police station Bijbehara in Anantnag. He received gunshot injuries and was immediately shifted to hospital for the treatment, however he succumbed to his injuries,” a police statement available with The Quint reads.
Dar’s son Nadeem, and daughter Nazima, had gotten married on the same day, two months ago.
'Down to Earth, Honest'
His childhood friend Abdul Rashid remembers Dar as a “down to earth” man. “He was so honest that he never even thought of earning money in illegal ways. Whenever he met me, he was wearing a smile,” said Abdul while consoling the mourners.
Wishing anonymity, a retired ASI of J&K police who had been Dar's batchmate told The Quint that in the year 1988, Dar was recruited into the J&K police along with him, and they had stayed together for years.
“Dar was, no doubt, in the line of duty when he was killed, but he did not have a weapon with him. Because of his friendly approach, he was walking freely in a civil uniform,” he said.
According to him, 55-year-old Dar was on the verge of retirement when he became another target of rising militant attacks on the police personnel.
Locals, Police Personnel Vulnerable Targets in Kashmir
Dar’s killing counts among many similar hit-and-run assassinations that appear to have put Kashmir region under the spotlight of militants. The police personnel, most of them locals, have become vulnerable targets in the region.
Though on 1 December, the Centre told the Rajya Sabha that militant attacks in J&K had reduced since Article 370 that gave special power to the erstwhile state was abrogated but in the same month militant strikes intensified in the region.
39 kilometers away from where Dar was killed is the armed police headquarter Zewan Srinagar where on 13 December, 3 police personnel were killed and 11 were injured in a militant attack.
Three days before the Zewan Srinagar attack militants attacked a police party in north Kashmir’s Bandipore and killed two police personnel.
On 19 December, a police officer was shot at by suspected militants near his home in Pulwama district of south Kashmir. The officer, Mushtaq Ahmad Wagay, was injured and immediately hospitalised.
Quoting police records, The Indian Express reported that 41 security personnel were killed in J&K this year, 21 of whom were policemen.
Police sources said that the sudden spike in the attacks on police personnel reflects the change of tactics by militants who are now carrying attacks with small firearms instead of large automatic rifles.
Following the Zewan Srinagar militant attack police claimed to provide bulletproof vehicles to its personnel for travel, but militants have carried out many attacks when policemen were without weapons or wearing civil uniform. For instance, this year on 22 June, militants killed a police inspector Pervez Ahmad in front of a mosque in the Menganwaji Nowgam area of Srinagar.
The CCTV footage of the incident showed the militants "firing indiscriminately" from the back of Ahmad while he was returning towards his home.
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