In yet another incident of gruesome lynching, Mohammad Ayub Pandit, a deputy superintendent of police was stripped naked and stoned to death by a mob outside the historic Jamia Masjid in Jammu and Kashmir’s Nohawatta district during the night-long celebration of Ramzan. Thousands of people had visited from all over Kashmir to observe ‘Shab-e-Qadr’ (the night of power) when the incident took place Wednesday around 12:30 pm. The historic Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta has always been a center of spiritual and moral upliftment.
So what happened?
DSP Mohammad Ayob who was posted outside the mosque during ‘Shab-e-Qadr’ was doing his duty standing at the access control of the mosque at around 12:30 when the mob attacked him and cruelly stripped and stoned to death, said police sources as quoted by PTI. Director General of Police S P Vaid, said two persons have been arrested so far and a third has been identified.
“All of them (involved in the lynching) will face the law,” the DGP told reporters on the sidelines of the wreath-laying ceremony for the slain officer at district police lines here.
Mohammad Ayub in his defense had opened fire from his pistol when the mob attacked him, injuring three persons. The mob then went on a rampage, targeting empty security pickets in the area. Police reinforcements were rushed to restore normalcy in the area. Defending the firing by the officer in which three persons were injured, Director General of Police S P Vaid said, “The DSP was carrying a pistol and he had the right to self-defence.”
The DSP was posted at the access control of the mosque to prevent people offering prayers in peace from any kind of violence. According to the SP Vaid, few among the people whom the DSP was protecting, lynched him when he was coming out of the mosque after checking the access control. SP Vaid,
Asked whether the slain officer was there for the security of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman of moderate Hurriyat Conference, the DGP said, “Mirwaiz does come there. It was a sacred occasion yesterday and thousands of people were expected at the mosque and security was made for them.”
The situation in the old city has turned tense following the incident. A state of a curfew-like situation was immediately imposed after the incident took place. Ayub’s body was taken to police control room for identification and other legal procedures, police sources said.
The attack was condemned by political leaders
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti described the incident as “shameful” and warned that the day the police loses patience it will be difficult to control them. “The DSP was at the mosque doing his duty, this was a shameless act,” Mehbooba said. Jammu and Kashmir Police was one of the best police forces in the country and was showing maximum restraint in dealing with law and order situation, she added.
Speaking to the reporters after the wrath-laying ceremony of the slain, as quoted by PTI Mehbooba Mufti “I want to say that J-K police is one of the best police forces in the country. They are brave but are showing maximum restraint because they feel that they are dealing with their own people. But for how long? The day their patience wanes, then, I believe, things will be difficult.”
Mehbooba urged people to understand the situation and said that the officer had not gone to Mosque for his personal work but to protect the lives of people. “A SHO along with five cops was killed some days back and now this DSP… I appeal to the people that there is still time and we should understand. The police force is our own force, they are our children and such a treatment is shameful,” she said.
Separatist Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who delivers sermons at the historic mosque in old Srinagar city’s Nowhatta area every Friday after prayers also expressed grief, saying it was “outside the parameters of our values and religion”. Mirwaiz also tweeted saying, “Deeply disturbed and condemn the brutal act at Nowhatta.” In another tweet, he added, “it is very important and imperative for us that we do not allow our social fabric to be brutalised and keep our basic values intact.”
Former chief minister and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah termed the incident as very unfortunate and said his death was a tragedy and its manner a travesty. “May the people who lynched DSP Pandith burn in hell for their sins,” he posted on Twitter. Expressing shock and anguish over the dastardly killing, Omar in a statement said the killing was the height of barbarism and should be condemned unequivocally. “I’m personally anguished and devastated by this tragedy. That this happened on the most auspicious night and outside Jamia Masjid is shocking. “Such heinous elements are the enemies of Kashmiriyat and humanity and should be given the sternest possible sentence as per law of the land. We are all duty-bound to stand with the family of the martyred police officer and also the Police Department in this hour of mourning and grief,” he said.
Nowhatta mob lynching: DySP Mohammed Ayub Pandith beaten to death near Jamia Masjid: Read
Announcing a donation of Rs 10 Lakh to the police welfare fund on behalf of the party and one month’s salary of him as contribution to support families of such brave martyrs, Omar expressed solidarity with the family and the colleagues of the slain officer and demanded that the culprits be brought to book without any delay and should be given the sternest possible punishment.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi also expressed grief and termed the lynching incident as “horrific” and said it marked a new low in the state.
“The brutal lynching of Deputy SP Md Ayub Pandith marks a new low. Pained beyond words at the horrific incident,” tweeted Gandhi, who is on vacations in Italy. “Heartbreaking to see J&K being pushed back several decades because of the complete failure of the PDP/BJP government,” he tweeted.