Militants Attack Mirwaiz's House, Shoot And Hurt His Uncle In Mosque
29 May 2004
The Asian Age
Srinagar: Unidentified assailants struck with impunity in Kashmir on Saturday, firing a rifle grenade at the house of chief Muslim cleric and Hurriyat Conference founder chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq shortly after targeting his uncle inside a mosque. Earlier, the father, wife and three-year-old son of a former militant now reportedly working for the Army were gunned down at a village outside Srinagar. Two other civilians were murdered in mountainous Doda district. The Save Kashmir Movement, an obscure outfit, claimed it had carried out the attacks at the mirwaiz's house and on his uncle. Its spokesperson, Sheikh Tajamul, told local news agency CNS over the phone that the act was to make it clear that those who are prepared for a sellout in the garb of mujahideen and the freedom struggle must desist from it. He added, 'This should also serve as the writing on the wall for those who have entered into a dialogue with those involved in the Gujarat tragedy and all should learn that no individual or party, howsoever important they might be, can be above the mujahideen or the jihad.' The mirwaiz and his relatives and supporters were standing outside the operating theatre of the government-run SMHS while his uncle, Maulvi Mushtaq Ahmed, was undergoing surgery when he heard about the attack at his bungalow in the posh Nagin residential area. 'I hope nobody has been hurt,' he asked the caller from his home. 'Don't worry, have courage,' he told her. The rifle grenade, fired from a distance, fell and exploded in an alley outside the house, but some windowpanes were damaged by the blast, his sister told this correspondent. She added: 'Thank God nobody has been hurt.' Ironically, a posse of policemen guards the house round- the-clock. Earlier on Saturday, Maulvi Mushtaq was offering zuhar (midday) prayers at the historic Maulvi Masjid at Rajwari Kadal in Srinagar, just outside Mirwaiz Manzil, the headquarters of the Mirwaiz Umar-led Awami (People's) Action Committee, when the gunmen opened fire, targeting him from behind. 'While in prostration in the fourth and last rakat, I heard gunshots. And when the namaz was over, we found him lying on the floor in the first row, in a pool of blood, and groaning,' said Manzoor Ahmed Jogi, a resident. The police said the assailants fled by jumping out of the mosque window. A CRPF contingent is deployed at a pillbox just outside the mosque, but a witness said, 'They learnt about the attack only when he (Maulvi Mushtaq) was being removed to hospital.' Mushtaq, who received multiple bullet wounds, was quickly removed to hospital. Being a heart patient for quite some time, he was later shifted to the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences here for specialised treatment. The mirwaiz said his condition was stable. Mushtaq is a member of Kashmir's most reputable mirwaiz family; hence the incident sparked off protests in old Srinagar city where traders suspended work and vehicular traffic was diverted. Tension grew as the news of the attack at the mirwaiz's house spread. The PAC is a constituent of the Hurriyat. Mirwaiz Umar is among four top separatist leaders who have had two rounds of talks with Mr L.K. Advani on Kashmir. The third round of peace talks was scheduled for the last week of June, but the political changeover at the Centre is likely to delay the process. However, the new government has committed itself to continuing the dialogue. Hurriyat faction chairman Maulvi Abbas Ansari said, 'We can't be cowed down by these senseless acts of violence.'