SRINAGAR: An angry mob beat a police officer to death outside a mosque in India-held Kashmir, police said on Friday, as tensions ran high in the volatile Himalayan region.
Witnesses said the mob attacked Mohammad Ayub Pandith late on Thursday after he fired his pistol when confronted by worshippers at the mosque in the main city of Srinagar who suspected him of being a government spy.
Violence between government forces and civilians has spiked in recent months in the disputed region.
A police statement said Pandith, a deputy superintendent with the security wing of the state police, had been “attacked and beaten to death by a mob”.
Worshippers suspected officer in plain clothes of spying on them
Witnesses said worshippers confronted Pandith, who was not wearing a uniform, as he took pictures with his mobile phone outside the Jamia Mosque in Srinagar during the Lailatul Qadr prayers.
He drew out his pistol and fired, injuring three, as his colleague fled the scene, they said.
“Some youths at that point immediately pounced on him, snatched his weapon and more people came and started beating him up,” a witness said, declining to give his name. Police said they have arrested two people over the killing and identified one other.
Pandith was posted at the mosque to ensure the prayers passed off peacefully, the local director general of police S. P. Vaid said as he paid tribute to his colleague at a funeral ceremony.
Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, meanwhile, condemned the murder in a tweet.
“Mob violence & public lynching is outside the parameters of our values & religion,” he said.
“We cannot allow state brutality to snatch our humanity & values.”
Hundreds of stone-throwing protesters clashed with police in the area after the killing and authorities have imposed restrictions on people’s movements, fearing protests. The incident came a week after suspected militants in held Kashmir ambushed a police patrol, killing five officers.
Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2017