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Army vows to punish killers of young Kashmiri lieutenant Ummer Fayaz

LiveMint logoLiveMint 10-05-2017 PTI

New Delhi: The Army on Thursday vowed to punish the killers of young Kashmiri lieutenant Ummer Fayaz while defence minister Arun Jaitley called the attack a dastardly act of cowardice by the militants.

The bullet-riddled body of 22-year-old Fayaz was found in Harmen area of Shopian in South Kashmir this morning, hours after he was abducted by militants from Batpura village where he had gone to attend his cousin’s wedding.

“I assure the family that the perpetrators of this heinous crime and dastardly act will not be spared,” Lt Gen Abhay Krishna, general officer commanding-in chief of South Western Command and Colonel of Rajputana Riffles, said.

Fayaz, hailing from Kulgam in South Kashmir, was with Rajputana Rifles and had taken leave to attend the wedding. He was commissioned into the Army on 10 December last year and according to his colleagues, he was popular for his simplicity and honesty.

ALSO READ: Umer Fayaz’s killing is dastardly act of cowardice: Arun Jaitley

Expressing anguish over the killing of the young officer, Jaitley said Fayaz’s sacrifice reiterates the nation’s commitment to eliminate terrorism from the Valley and that he would continue to inspire youth from Kashmir.

“Abduction & murder of Lt. Ummer Fayaz by terrorists in Shopian is a dastardly act of cowardice. This young officer from J&K was a role model,” Jaitley said in a tweet. “Fayaz was an exceptional sportsman, his sacrifice reiterates nation’s commitment to eliminate terrorism from the Valley.”

Lt Gen Krishna said people of Kashmir will have to rise collectively and hit back at the “cowards and perpetrators” of the heinous crime, adding they can no longer tolerate such tragic losses of their “beloved sons”. “This marks a watershed moment in Kashmir Valley and people of Kashmir will decisively turn the tide against terrorism,” he said, conveying to family of Fayaz that the Army stands shoulder-to-shoulder with it.

It was for the first time that he had taken leave after joining the Army, a senior official said. He was supposed to have returned to his unit in the Akhnoor area of Jammu on 25 May. The killing caused anger among locals who demanded that the men responsible be identified and punished.

Army officers posted with Rajputana Riffles said Fayaz was loved by his colleagues and he was known for immaculately performing alloted tasks. His father, a farmer, has a small time apple business. Fayaz was part of the hockey team of NDA and he was also an excellent volleyball player.

The autopsy report showed marks on his body, indicating that he had resisted the militants who abducted him, the officials said. He was fired at from a close range, and the bullets had hit his head and stomach or chest region.

Locals said two masked men entered the house and asked Fayaz, who was unarmed, to accompany them.The killing caused anger among locals who demanded that the men responsible be identified and punished.

The body of the officer was laid to rest with full military honours. His funeral was attended by several people from his village.

Born on 8 June 1994, Fayaz had studied at Navodaya Vidyalaya, a branch of government schools for gifted students, at Ashmuquam in South Kashmir. He belonged to the 129th batch of cadets from the prestigious Pune-based National Defence Academy.

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, while condemning the killing, 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.”

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi also condemned the killing and said those who tried to defeat what slain army officer Ummer Fayaz stood for, would be themselves defeated. “The entire nation shares the grief of Fayaz’s family, friends and colleagues. My heartfelt condolences,” he said. “His memory will never be forgotten. Those who tried to defeat what he stood for, will themselves be defeated,” Gandhi said on Twitter.

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah also condemned the incident and said the situation was “very sad and alarming” which needed an urgent attention from the Centre.

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