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Militants go on rampage in Kashmir after policemen arrest their relatives, abduct 12 kin of cops;

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srinagar:-The kidnapping of relatives of Kashmir policemen began from Tral area of Pulwama and then spread to three districts of south Kashmir throughout Thursday evening. Till now, at least 12 people have been abducted and their whereabouts are not known. After every two hours, one more is reported, and the number is going up.

The fresh escalation between militants and Kashmir Police began after four policemen were killed when they had gone to an automobile workshop near Arhama fruit mandi in Shopian to repair their vehicle when militants fired at them.

Assadullah Naikoo, (right) father of Reyaz Naikoo, and his uncle Ghulam Qadir at their house in Beighpora Awantipora early this month. Photo procured by Sameer Yasir

Thistriggered a chain reaction, forces appeared at the house of militants in Amshepora village, and tried to set ablaze the house of a local militant on the same evening, the family members said. The arrest of the son of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin by NIA only vitiated the atmosphere further.

“They came in the middle of the night and threw gunpowder on our house,” Majid, the cousin of Umer Khattab, a militant, whose house was raided on Wednesday evening, said. A likewise incident was also reported from a nearby village, where a local unit of the army along with police, destroyed the house of another militant, family members said.

This led to a militant reaction throughout south Kashmir, taking the Valley by surprise like it has never before. They first appeared at the house of a policeman in Pinglish village of Tral and abducted his son, Asif Rafiq Rather, a BSc Agriculture student, who was sitting in his room when gunmen came in and took him away.

Kashmir Police started a frantic search to locate the missing boy while doing so they arrived at the house of militants. The first house they arrived at was that of Reyaz Naikoo, the top Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander, his father, Assadullah Naikoo, 65, was among the eight people arrested in raids carried out throughout the southern region on Thursday.

“They arrived and dragged him to the police jeep,” Ghulam Qadir, the uncle of Naikoo, a resident of Beighpora Awantipora in Pulwama district, said of the arrest. “Nothing unusual, we are now used to this.”

Qadir, who was slapped a Public Safety Act by police and was released a few months back, told Firstpost recently after continues harassment of his son, who is studying MSc at a nearby university, he had expressed his willingness to join militancy.

“The SOG came a few months ago and painted our house with Zakir Musa slogans, left and fired at the gate. It is childish nothing else. They should fight Reyaz (Naikoo) not his family, we have nothing to do with it,” Qadir said.

The mother of the kidnapped youth, Rather, on Thursday, appealed to the kidnappers to release her son. Hameeda Begum, the wife of the policeman, said in a video that was widely shared on social media, that “You are also my own children. I request you to kindly set him free.”

Till now the militants were used to kidnapping policeman, and in turn, the security forces will ransack their homes, but never before have the militants kidnapped the family members of policemen like they have done in last 48 hours. Thirteen people have already been kidnapped when this copy was being written, one adducted was released at 12:45 am on Friday.

The fight between the police and local militants was never so intimate, personal and never so local, that after every action there is a reaction from both sides of the divide.

“By involving a militant’s family or by burning their houses during midnight raids, and harassing their kin on and off, you are only making this conflict deadlier, intimate, and personal. Fight guns with guns. For God sake leave families on all sides alone,” Shams Irfan, a journalist, wrote on his Facebook page.

The Kashmir Police later arrived at the house of militant Lateef Ahmed, also known as Tiger, and arrested his two brothers and father from their residence in Dogripora Pulwama, during a night raid, family members said.

“Arresting family members of militants and burning houses of militants and humiliating their family members have neither helped in the past nor it may help in future,” independent MLA Langate Engineer Rasheed said on Thursday. He appealed to the militants to release Asif Rafiq Rather, the son of policemen without any harm.

“It is unacceptable to harass families of militants or those of security forces. Both the militants and security forces must respect families of each other and stop promoting infighting within the society,” he added.

The chief of Kashmir Police Swayam Prakash Pani told Firstpost that militants have attacked family members of policemen because they are desperate after the killing of all top commanders in recent months in south Kashmir.

“They can’t reach me, they are looking for soft targets. But all of the policemen are locals, they are part of the society, and kidnapping family members won’t help anyone,” Pani said. “They are leaderless and chaotic. We will get back the people soon,” Pani added.

By Thursday evening things only seemed to be getting worse, the gunmen abducted a son of a cook at the police training school Manigam in Midoora village of Awantipora. They also barged into the house of policeman Ghulam Hassan Mir and abducted his son Nasir Ahmad Mir from his house in Pinglish village.

Mir, the son, is a teacher at a private school. Half an hour after this incident happened a group of masked gunmen abducted brother of another policeman from his home in Naman village in Pulwama district on Thursday night.

The house of policeman Nazir Ahmad Mir was raided by gunmen and they abducted his brother Mohammad Shafi Mir. As the day came to an end on Thursday, five minutes before the clock struck 12, the militants kidnapped the brother of a DSP Ajaz Ahmad in Katapora village of Kulgam. The militants also abducted the nephew of a DSP of Mohammad Syed Shah during the night in Shopian.

And it seems to be getting out of control till Friday morning. So far at least 12 people have been abducted and are in the custody of militants.

“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,” former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, said in a tweet.

For the moment the fate of 12 relatives of Kashmir policemen seem to be hanging in air.

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