Hundreds of people on Saturday took part in a candlelight vigil at India Gate in New Delhi to pay tributes to late Army officer Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz who was abducted and killed by militants in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on May 9. The crowd included of army veterans, students and tourists with many voicing their demand for the death of the young lieutenant to be “avenged”.
Fayaz, the 22-year-old Army officer of 2 Rajputana Rifles was on leave and was attending the marriage ceremony of a cousin in Kashmir when he was abducted from the venue of the wedding itself. His body was later found near a bus stand in Harmain village on May 10 morning.
According to PTI reports, the candlelit march, that went around the India Gate circle, saw people raising slogans hailing his “sacrifice”. Slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ filled the air along with cries condemning Pakistan and militant groups in the valley. The march was also joined by many tourists spontaneously.
Among the marchers were members of the 124 infantry battalion of the Territorial Army and also the alumni association of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, where Fayaz studied before joining the Pune-based National Defence Academy. Fayaz, studied at Navodaya Vidyalaya, a branch of government schools for gifted students, at Ashmuquam in South Kashmir, joined the Army after being commissioned in December last year. He belonged to the 129th batch of cadets from the prestigious Pune-based National Defence Academy.
According to the autopsy reports, Fayaz was shot at from a close range as marks on his body also indicated his struggle while he was being abducted. Citing defence sources, PTI on Thursday reported that six militants involved in the abduction and killing of young Fayaz have been identified and that the militants are from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Hizbul Mujahideen.
However, on Friday, Syed Salahuddin, the Hizbul Mujahideen chief denied Jammu and Kashmir Police’s statement after they put up posters of three Hizbul militants in Shopian township blaming them of being involved in Fayaz’s killing. “Our militants are not involved in the murder of Lt Ummer Fayaz. Such a killing is condemnable,” said Salahuddin.
Condemning the killing, J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti said,”What was more painful to note is that the young officer had come home on vacation where he was attending the marriage of his cousin.” It was Fayaz’s first leave at home after he joined the Army in December 2016 which, however, turned out to be his last. He was supposed to return to his unit in the Akhnoor area of Jammu on May 25.