After tit-for-tat abductions, all 11 relatives of J&K police released by militants
Late on Friday evening, the militants released all 11 relatives of policemen after the state released the kin of the three militants detained earlier.
Militants in Kashmir abducted, and then released, 11 relatives of state police personnel in apparent retaliation to police detention of the families of three Hizbul Mujahideen men amid mounting tension in the valley.
The 11 family members were abducted from villages in the Pulwama, Anantnag, Shopian and Anantnag districts of south Kashmir on Thursday night and Friday morning, even as allegations swirled that security forces had set fire to the homes of militant leaders during night raids.
Late on Friday evening, the militants released all 11 relatives of policemen after the state released the kin of the three militants detained earlier. Jammu and Kashmir director general of police SP Vaid confirmed the 11 relatives of policemen had been released and were back home.
Among those detained by police earlier was Asadullah Naikoo, father of Hizbul Mujahideen operational commander Riyaz Naikoo , who was picked up from his Awantipora home in south Kashmir, a day after four policemen were killed in Shopian. The police said Asadullah Naikoo was called for questioning and released.
In an audio clip posted on social media on Friday evening, Riyaz Naikoo said the fight was against India but that Kashmir Police had become a “victim of Indian conspiracy” and its frontline. “We have tolerated a lot till this day and tried to make police understand but they did not listen. From now onwards we won’t allow this. From now onwards whosoever becomes our obstacle in our struggle, his fate will be that of an enemy.’’ The abductions followed the arrest of the son of Syed Salauddin, chief of the Hizbul Mujahideen, by the National Investigation Agency.
Additional director general of police (law and order) Munir Ahmad Khan said the department was trying to ascertain the motive of the militants. “In the video, they have made some allegations but those allegations are not specific, they are sort of general .” He added that police does not vandalise properties nor harass relatives of militants.
The abduction was condemned by politicians across party lines.
“Militants and forces victimising each other’s families is highly condemnable and marks a new low in our situation. Families shouldn’t become casualties and made to suffer for something they have little control over,” said former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti. “11 abductions! This is a very worrying reflection of the situation in the valley,” tweeted former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah.
“What’s worse is the selective outrage - people/leaders who are so vocal about alleged security force excesses are silent about these abductions,” he tweeted.
The abductions were all reported from south Kashmir, which has emerged as a militant hotspot in the Valley in recent years. As many as 33 policemen have been killed so far this year, including three on Eid, when policemen were visiting their homes despite an advisory that cautioned against such a move. About 1,600 policemen have died in J & K since armed insurgency broke out in 1990.
Kashmir remained paralysed for a second straight day because of a strike in protest against a petition in the Supreme Court against Section 35A of the Constitution whose hearing was eventually deferred till January by the court. Schools, universities, businesses and most offices remained shut even as government forces in riot gear patrolled deserted streets. Traffic remained off the roads and restrictions were imposed in some parts of the old city.