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Will J&K Police Step Up Security After Constable Suhail’s Killing?

“Had the policemen been armed, they could’ve retaliated,” IG Police Kumar said.

Updated
India
4 min read
Deceased Constable Suhail Ahangar’s house. Image used for representational purposes.
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Four-year-old Sehal and two-year-old Osman still think their father — ‘Janu’ — is at work and will be home soon.

Suhail Ahangar, 30, was killed in a brazen attack on Friday, 19 February, in Baghat Barzulla area of uptown Srinagar city. The attack led to the killing of two policemen including Suhail and his colleague Muhammad Yousuf.

The attack was claimed by the militant outfit ‘The Resistance Front’.

On the same day, another police officer, Muhammad Altaf, was killed and constable Manzoor Ahmed was injured in a gunfight with security forces in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.

Three militants were also killed in a separate gunfight in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

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Deceased Constable Suhail Was an Infant When His Father ‘Disappeared’, Never to Return

Suhail’s killing has shrouded Logripora village, about 75 km south of Kashmir in Anantnag district, in darkness and mourning. The villagers who assembled at Suhail’s home narrated his stories of nobility.

Sitting in a corner, Muhammad Abdullah Ahangar, Suhail’s grandfather looks devastated. Suhail was raised by his mother and grandfather, after his father, Mushtaq Ahmad Ahangar, disappeared in October 1990 during the armed insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir. “Suhail was just 7 months old when his father disappeared,” a distraught Abdullah said. There are over 8,000 cases of ‘enforced disappearances’ in Jammu and Kashmir. These disappearances began in the 1990s.

It was Suhail’s grandfather who persuaded him to join the Jammu and Kashmir Police in 2011. “He was not willing to join the police but since there were no jobs I persuaded him to fill the form and apply for the post of a constable,” Abdullah said.

Suhail’s friends remember him as a sober person who was the only source of income for his family which includes his grandfather, mother, wife and two kids.

Suhail Was Killed On the Second Day Of His New Posting

Suhail’s father worked as a manager in a local flour mill and would come home only on Sundays, Abdullah said. “Before his disappearance, he would often tell me about how he was regularly questioned by security forces who camped around the floor mill,” Abdullah said. Days later, Mushtaq disappeared. Abdullah said that he ran from pillar to post in search of his son and also registered a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. “But we could never trace him.”

Abdullah said Suhail was very attached to him.

“It was this attachment that forced Suhail to come back from Jammu where he was on deputation with a senior administrative officer.”

Suhail had returned to Kashmir just a fortnight ago from Jammu, his uncle Javed Ahangar said. “My father was not feeling well for some time and Suhail wanted to be closer to him,” Javed said.

Suhail was posted in Sadder Police Station just a few metres from the place where he was attacked and killed. “It was only his second day of posting at this police station,” Javed said.

On the day of the attack, Abdullah was returning from his Friday prayers when he received a call from Suhail’s wife informing him that Suhail had been injured. “At first although there was an apprehension that Suhail may have been injured in a road accident, I was certain that this was something else,” Abdullah said.

Suhail’s mother then called up his paternal uncle Abdul Aziz Ahangar informing him about the incident. Aziz said that he called Suhail’s phone and it rang twice, to no avail. The third time around, someone answered the phone and said: “Suhail is dead.”

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Another Killing: Restauranteur Akaash Mehra Shot Dead

“The two policemen were on routine duty and were at a shop to buy something. They were fired from the back and were totally unarmed,” IGP Kumar told reporters during a news conference on Friday.

The attack that killed Suhail and his colleague came close on the heels of a foreign delegation visit to Kashmir on Wednesday, 17 February. On the same day, suspected militants fired point blank at a restauranteur, Aakash Mehra, almost one kilometre away from the spot where the delegates were staying in the capital city of Srinagar.

The police said that they had arrested three persons for the attack on the restauranteur who were identified as Suhail Ahmad Mir (son of Fateh Muhammad Mir, resident of Dangerpora Nowgam); Owais Manzoor Sofi (son of Manzoor Ahmad Sofi, resident of Dangarpora); and Vilayat Aziz Mir (son of Abdul Aziz Mir, resident of Hanipora Wampora Pulwama).

It was the second attack on a businessman in Kashmir. Earlier, on 31 December 2020, militants had shot dead a goldsmith, Satpal Nischal, at a busy Srinagar market at Sarai Bala.

Security Review Required

The IGP said that two militants, including a foreigner and a local, identified as Saqib, carried out the attack that killed Suhail. He said that both the attackers would be tracked down soon. “Doctors at the hospital tried their best to save the two injured cops but couldn’t,” the IGP said, adding that the incident has alerted cops to working with more dedication and taking extra precautions.

“We will do a security review and plug the loopholes. Had the policemen been armed, perhaps they could have retaliated,” the IGP said.

Meanwhile, in Logripora, there is a pall of gloom. “The unprecedented cycle of violence took Suhail away from us,” said Rashid, one of Suhail’s friends.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti visited Logripora on 20 February, and while condemning the attack, said: “this cycle of violence serves no cause and begets only misery”.

“Three policemen were mercilessly killed on Friday within a few hours. The Government of India should think about how long the people of J&K will continue to suffer like this. Policemen and others are getting killed and it is a big issue. To end this, the government should initiate talks so that people of J&K would remain in peace,” she said.

(Muhammad Raafi is a journalist based in Kashmir.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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