A territorial Army jawan, who was on leave, was found shot dead in an apple orchard about 3 km from his home in Sazan, in Shopian, on Saturday morning. Police said Irfan Ahmad Dar, 23, had been killed by militants.
“Obviously, militants are responsible for this killing. He had been shot by a bullet fired from an AK-47 rifle,” said Shopian Superintendent of Police Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar.
According to reports, Dar had left home on Friday evening, and said he would return the next morning. “He left his home on his own, we have found his car in the area. So, we are ruling out abduction,” said Dinkar.
The Army, however, called it a “possible abduction and murder”. “He was on leave till November 26,” said Defence spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia. “While on leave, he was possibly abducted and killed by terrorists. The matter is being investigated by the police.”
Dar is survived by his father, Ghulam Mohammad Dar, a farmer, mother Shama Begum and three younger siblings.
“We don’t know who has killed him… All we know is that he got a call on his cellphone on Friday evening. He left home and told his mother he would return in the morning. We don’t know what happened after that and who killed him,” said Dar’s cousin, Sheraz Ahmad.
As relatives and neighbours crowded Dar’s home — a single-storey mud-and-brick house in Sazan, a hamlet of about 50 houses — for his funeral on Saturday, many shouted slogans of “Azadi”. “Hum kya chahte, Azadi (We want freedom),” they shouted.
This is the third time a person from the security forces has been killed while on leave in the Valley.
In May, militants abducted Lt Umar Fayaz Parray, a resident of Kulgam who had gone to attend his cousin’s wedding in Shopian, and killed him. In September, militants barged into the house of Border Security Force (BSF) constable Mohammad Ramzan Parray at Hajin in North Kashmir, dragged him out, and shot him.
However, unlike the other two security personnel, who were buried with full military honours, Dar’s coffin was not draped in the national flag, and there were no security personnel present. Villagers said an Army officer, along with some personnel, had come in the morning, but they were told to leave.
“They came in four-five vehicles, but the women attacked them and asked them to leave immediately,” said a neighbour. “The villagers suspect that the Army may be behind his killing,” he added.
Half-an-hour before the funeral, Army and police officers passed by Dar’s house, in separate vehicles, but did not halt.
Condemning the killing, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “Strongly condemn the brutal killing of Irfan Ahmad, a brave Territorial Army soldier at Shopian… Such heinous acts will not weaken our resolve to establish peace and normalcy in Valley.”
“The murder of young Irfan Dar is a very tragic and reprehensible act. My unqualified condemnation and heartfelt condolences to his family,” tweeted former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.