A frenzied mob, raising pro-Pakistan and pro al-Qaida slogans, lynched a police officer outside Srinagar's Jamia Masjid on Shab-e-Qadr, the holiest night for Muslims during Ramzan. Deputy superintendent of police Mohammad Ayub Pandith, 57, was part of the security grid deployed for devotees attending Thursday's night-long prayers led by the mosque's custodian, Kashmiri separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Around midnight, as the Mirwaiz was delivering a sermon inside the mosque, a huge mob gathered outside, raising slogans.
Sources said, the DSP, on deputation in the security wing of J-K police, was in civvies, at Nowhatta on Thursday night. Around midnight, while the Mirwaiz was giving sermons inside the mosque, a huge mob gathered outside, raising slogans lauding Pakistan and al Qaeda operative Zakir Musa who recently threatened to behead separatists, including Mirwaiz, for calling Kashmir a “political issue“ and not Islamic jihad.
Eyewitnesses said as soon as the DSP began shooting a video of the sloganeering, the youth began shouting “noncircumcised“, “IB agent“ and “RAW agent“ while pointing at him. Suddenly , the irate mob pounced on the cop who tried to escape by firing some shots from his service pistol, leaving three people injured.Two of them were taken to hospital, sources said.
The infuriated mob overpowered the DSP, stripping him and hitting him with stones, sharp edged weapons and a wooden log until he died while the Mirwaiz was leading a prayer on forgiveness inside the mosque, an eyewitness said. Police were at first unable to identify the body of the officer late at night. In the morning, cops recovered his mutilated body from the mosque compound by bringing in a contingent of security forces and firing several rounds of tear gas shells to disperse the mob. Eyewitnesses said rioters went on a rampage targeting empty security pickets in the area.
Pandith's body was taken to police control room for identification and legal procedures. Police in a statement said, “Another police officer sacrificed his life in the line of duty.“
Pandith, 57, a resident of Khanyar area in Srinagar, is survived by his wife, son Danish and daughter Sania who studies medicine in Bangladesh. Danish fainted when he saw the mutilated body of his father, Pandith's cousin, Mohammad Abdullah, a lawyer said. Sania had come home to celebrate Eid with the family two days ago. Instead, she joined the funeral of her father, the cousin said. “The entire family is shattered,“ he said.
One of the nieces of the DSP was heard crying, “Yes, we are Indians, we are Indians. They killed an innocent man, our innocent uncle.“
Pandith had a Masters in Commerce and a degree in law before he joined the police in 1990 as a sub inspector. He was promoted as DSP in 2013. During his career, he served in different wings of the state security in different capacities. “He had received huge appreciation for his work and conduct,“ a police spokesperson said.