Two months after seven militants were killed at their ancestral house in Shopian, the brother of an IPS officer from South Kashmir has gone missing, and is feared to have joined militant ranks.
Shams ul Haq Mengnoo, a student of Bachelor’s in Unani Medicine and Surgery (BUMS), has been missing since May 26, and police sources say he may have joined the Hizbul Mujahideen. Shams is the younger brother of a 2012-batch IPS officer currently posted outside the state. The family has not filed any missing person complaint with police.
While the rest of the family members remain tightlipped on the matter, the IPS officer told The Indian Express he had no knowledge of it. “I don’t know what you are saying,” he said.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, South Kashmir, Amit Kumar told The Indian Express, “We have not received any report from anybody so far. When nobody has said anything or filed a missing report, what would we investigate?”
Unlike other recent militant recruits, Shams has not uploaded any gun-wielding pictures on social networking sites. Police sources say that of late Hizb militants have desisted from posting pictures of new recruits, and this could be the reason his picture has not been posted.
Shams was a student of the Institute of Asian Medical Sciences, located at Zakura on the outskirts of Srinagar.
While the family belongs to Draggad village of South Kashmir’s Shopian, they are now settled in Srinagar. On April 1, seven militants had been killed in a fierce encounter at the family’s ancestral home in Draggad, including a cousin of Shams, Zabir Ahmad Turray. A former Tehreek-e-Hurriyat activist, Turray had been repeatedly booked under the Public Safety Act before joining militancy. In a video that emerged after the encounter, Turray had blamed police for his joining the Hizbul.
There were three other militants present at the Draggad house that day, who had escaped. Among them was top Hizbul commander Zeenat-ul-Islam. Sources say Zeenat is a childhood friend of the IPS officer, and the two families have close relations.
The same day, in another village in Shopian, Kachdora, five militants had been killed in an encounter. Since that day, at least 30 youths have left homes to join militancy in South Kashmir.
If Shams is among them, it would be the fourth high-profile militant recruitment in the Valley this year. In January this year, a doctorate research scholar from Aligarh Muslim University and a resident of Kupwara, Mannan Wani, had joined the Hizbul. In March, Junaid Ashraf, the son of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chief Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, had joined the outfit, while in May, Kashmir University assistant professor Mohammad Rafi Bhat had followed suit. Bhat had been killed in an encounter in Shopian barely 36 hours later.