Search ops for terrorists intensified in J&K’s Rajouri, villagers demand Army post

Rajouri/Jammu, Apr 23 (PTI) Search operation has been intensified in the Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir to track down the terrorists involved in the killing of a man belonging to the Gujjar community, officials said on Tuesday.

The incident occurred on Monday night when the victim, Mohammad Razaq (40), came out of a mosque in his village Kunda Top under the Thanamandi police station area. Razaq’s brother, Mohammad Tahir Choudhary, is a soldier in the Territorial Army, police said.

While Razaq succumbed to his injuries, Choudhary escaped unhurt, they said. Razaq’s body was buried in the village.

The villagers batted strongly for the restoration of an army post at Kopra in the area which was functional there till 2010 but was removed afterwards.

The police, the Army and the CRPF launched a cordon and search operation (CASO) soon after the incident and intensified the searches in the area with the support of sniffer dogs and aerial surveillance to track down the terrorists, they said.

According to the officials, Tahir could have been the target but his brother got shot. Vehicles are being thoroughly checked and the people are being subjected to frisking at various checkpoints in the district, they added.

A criminal case has been registered in FIR under sections 302 (murder), 120A (conspiracy to commit an offence), 121B (waging war or attempting to wage war against the Government of India), 122 (collecting arms with the intention of waging war against the Government of India), 458 (lurking house-trespass or house-breaking by night after preparation for hurt, assault, or wrongful restraint), the Arms Act and some sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) at the Thanamandi police station, the officials said.

Razaq’s father, Mohammad Akbar, was also killed by terrorists 20 years ago in the same village. Akbar worked in the Social Welfare Department and Razaq was given a job by the government on compassionate grounds in the same department, they said.

“My elder brother, Mohammad Akbar, was the naib sarpanch of our village in 2004 when he was kidnapped by the terrorists and brutally killed,” said Akbar’s brother, Mohammad Hussain (72), son of Salah Mohammad.

He mentioned that Akbar’s body was found in a mutilated condition days after his kidnapping.

Hussain further stated that now his nephew, the son of his late brother, has become a victim of terrorism. “Our family has suffered twin blows. We are shattered,” he said.

Mohammad Razaq, who was shot dead by suspected terrorists on Monday late evening, has left behind two sons and three daughters, the family said.

He was a noble soul in the entire village and was religious in nature, observing Ramadan fasting and offering five-time namaz, they said.

Village elder Mohammad Iqbal, who is also a religious preacher, said the incident reminds him of a day 20 years ago, March 13, 2004, when Razaq’s father, Mohammad Akbar, was brutally killed.

“Akbar was kidnapped and his body was buried in the wheat fields, with wheat plants growing over it before it was found and recovered,” he further said.

The villagers, while discussing the situation during Nimaz-e-Janaza, called for the restoration of the Army post Kopra in the area.

Meanwhile, the security forces busted a terrorist hideout in the village of Azmatabad in Rajouri district last week. They recovered eight improvised explosive devices (IEDs), two wireless sets and some ammunition, the officials said.

Rajouri and Poonch districts have witnessed targeted attacks by the terrorists on the Army and the civilians in the past few years, they added.