14 for 4: Hizb, J&K police release each other’s kin

14 for 4: Hizb, J&K police release each other’s kin

Hizbul Mujahideen militants on Friday released two policemen, one SPO and 11 relatives of Jammu & Kashmir police personnel taken in a rash of abductions since Wednesday that were set off by the arrests of four relatives of militants, including the father of Hizb commander Riyaz Naiko. The unofficial prisoner swap is a rare
quid pro quo in Kashmir’s violent past.

The Hizb let the 14 captives go after the J&K police had released the militants’ arrested kin. Sources later said police had arrested other relatives of militants as well and that they, too, had been released.

The militants also disseminated on social media separate videos of all 14 persons in which they are seen appealing to state DGP S P Vaid not to harass the families of militants. “Otherwise provide security to us,” Irfan Gulzar, a sub-Inspector, is heard saying in a video.

Former J&K CM and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti condemned the abductions. “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,” she tweeted.

Earlier in the day, NC vice-president
Omar Abdullah had termed the situation as “worrying”. “11 abductions! This is a very worrying reflection of the situation in the valley. What’s worse is the selective outrage — people/leaders who are so vocal about alleged security force excesses are silent about these abductions,” he tweeted.

Cops arrested at least 4 relatives of militants

The only statement from the police was a Twitter statement confirming “some abductions” had taken place. “Some incidents of abduction have come to the notice of Police in #South Kashmir,” the Jammu & Kashmir police said in a tweet.

“We are ascertaining details and circumstances. In due course it shall be placed in the public domain,” the tweet added.

The police had arrested at least four relatives of militants, including Assadullah Naiko, father of Hizb commander Riyaz Naiko, who had been taken into custody on Wednesday night from his home at Beighpora in Awantipora, in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Riyaz Naikoo, alias Mohammad bin Qasim, is Hizb chief of operations. Ghulam Hassan and his two brothers, Zubair and Nadeem Ahmad, kin of active Hizb militant Lateef Tiger, had been arrested from their residence in Dogripora Pulwama during a Wednesday night raid.

Sources said all four persons were released on Friday.

The police personnel set free by the militants are sub-inspector Irfan Gulzar of Rahomo Pulwama and constable Shabir Ahmad Zargar of Kangan Pulwama, and Javed Ahmad Dar, special police officer at DPL, Pulwama.

The freed relatives of policemen are Gowhar Ahmed Malik of Kathpora Kulgam, whose brother is a DSP; Adnan Ashraf Shah of Shopian, the nephew of a DSP; Faizan Bashir Makroo of Kharpora Arwani, whose two uncles are in the police; Zubair Ahmad Bhat of Arwani, whose two brothers are policemen; Ghulam Mohammed Dar of Kangan Pulwama, whose two sons are in the police; Arif Hussain Shanker of Arwani, whose brother works in the police department.