A woman special police official (SPO) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police was killed Saturday by suspected militants at her home in South Kashmir’s Shopian district. While security forces launched a search in the area for the attackers, the incident marks the first time in the recent past that a woman police official has been killed.
The SPO was identified as Khushboo Jan and according to police, she was attacked at her home in Vehil area of Shopian district. A J&K Police spokesperson said she suffered critical injuries after militants opened fire inside her house.
“She sustained critical injuries and was evacuated to hospital where she succumbed,” the spokesperson said. “We condemn this gruesome terror act and stand by her family at this critical juncture.”
Jan’s father, Mohammed Manzoor Bhat, told The Indian Express that two people visited their house at around 2 pm. “They were carrying copy and a pen and we thought they are taking some details…we invited them inside, and they entered. They asked they want talk to Khushboo…they fired at her with the pistol,” he said.
He said Jan was the only earning member of the family. “A few years ago, our house was burnt as well…,” he said.
Jan is survived by her parents and two brothers — one in Class VIII and another in kidergarten.
A senior police officer said that Jan was off duty and was at her home and that they have registered a case.
Doctors at the district hospital in Shopian told The Indian Express that Jan was brought dead to the hospital. “She had bullet wound near the nose,” said a senior health official.
Since the Lok Sabha poll dates were announced last week, militants have carried out a series of attacks in South Kashmir. On Thursday night, a 40-year-old man was shot dead by suspected militants at Awantipora in Pulwama district and militants shot at and injured a block president of National Conference (NC) Mohammed Ismail Wani (60) at the neighbouring Bijbehara in district Anantnag. Suspected militants also shot dead a former Army recruit in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Wednesday.
Mainstream political leaders condemned the killing on Saturday and former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said on Twitter, “A lady special police officer (SPO) was shot & killed outside her home in South Kashmir earlier today. I condemn this act of terror & extend my condolences to her family & all her J&K police colleagues.”
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said: “I strongly condemn this brutal act of terror. My condolences to the family. This vicious cycle of death and destruction seems to have no end.”
Last year, militants had targeted SPOs, who they believe track of militants and act as informers for security agencies. The targeting of the SPOs by the militants then also triggered a spate of resignations from the SPO service and some even joined militant ranks. In January this year, an SPO was killed in Pulwama district.
SPOs are contractual employees of the J&K Police and comprise of over 30,000 men and women. They are considered the backbone of the police force in the region performing jobs from security to law and order.