Valley seethes at Fayaz killing

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Dinakar Peri

The Army has claimed that the cold-blooded killing of its young officer, Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz, in Shopian has angered the local population, who are now actively assisting security forces in locating the terrorists responsible.

In recent times the security forces have been struggling for reliable ground intelligence. “There is angst and undercurrent as to why was it done to him. It will come out sometime. That is also the likely reason no group has claimed responsibility so far. It will turn the tide against them,” an Army source said on Thursday.

‘Handiwork of locals’

The Lashkar-e-Taiba has a strong influence in the area where the incident occurred but the Army suggests that the killing may have been carried out by locals. Lt. Fayaz was abducted on his way to his cousin’s wedding in the Batapura area around 10 p.m. on Tuesday. His body was found the next day morning with two bullet injuries in Harmein area.

The terrorists, at least three, who abducted him are believed to be unarmed. They took him normally due to which the family did not suspect anything wrong and so no alarm was raised when he did not return.

“They might have taken him in a very friendly way,” the source stated and said that there was a Company Operating Base (COB) around one kilometre away.

Lt. Fayaz, a native of Kulgam district, was on leave but had not contacted the nearest COB as all personnel are advised to do. Normally when personnel from Kashmir go on vacation they keep a low profile so as not to attract unwanted attention.

There are 29 officers from the Kashmir Valley in the three services.

The Army believes that Lt. Fayaz was targeted especially because he was hugely popular in the area as he excelled in sports. “He was even invited to local functions. He was also a jovial person and mixed with everyone. That could have been the reason he was picked up,” the sources said.

Lt. Gen. Abhay Krishna, Army Commander South Western Command and Colonel Commandant of Rajputana Rifles, called the incident a “watershed moment” and said people would decisively “turn the tide” against terrorism. The Hindu

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