M A I N   N E W S

J&K minister shot
One militant killed, another escapes
Sridhar K Chari and Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, October 18
Two unidentified militants shot the Jammu and Kashmir Minister of State for Education and PDP leader, Dr Ghulam Nabi Lone, after sneaking into his official residence in the heart of the city at Tulsi Bagh here this morning.

A CRPF jawan, a state police constable, and a civilian employee of the education department, were also killed in one of the most daring attacks the state capital has witnessed. The civilian has been identified as Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Shah of Handwara.

One of the two militants was also killed in retaliatory fire, while the other managed to escape the high security zone. Three other persons, including a CRPF jawan and a woman bystander, sustained injuries.

The state secretary of the CPI (M) and MLA, Mr Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, living in a nearby house and one of the targets in the attack, escaped unhurt. The killed police constable was Mr Tarigami’s personal security officer.

IG Police (Kashmir range) Javed Makhdoomi told The Tribune that the two militants apparently came over the wall dividing the Tulsi Bagh area, where government quarters are located, and Amar Singh College. They were armed with AK-47 automatic rifles and grenades. They separately entered the houses of the two leaders, posing as visitors, and launched their attack.

The terrorists wore loose Kashmiri overcoat, known locally as “pheran”, which helped them to hide the weapons.

After one of them was killed, the other made good his escape via the same wall. Once outside Amar Singh college, the terrorist threw his jacket, rifle, and two live grenades, and escaped through a residential area.

Two militant outfits, the Islamic Front, and the Al-Mansoorin, have both claimed responsibility for the attack. Both these outfits have claimed responsibility for several attacks since the start of the peace bus between Srinagar and Muzzafarabad.

Mr Tarigami told The Tribune that the incident took place when he was about to leave for Mattan in Ananthnag district, where a CPI (M) colleague had been shot dead by militants yesterday.

The killed district committee member, Ghulam Nabi Ganai, had unsuccessfully contested the last assembly elections on a CPI (M) ticket. Mr Tarigami was preparing for a condolence trip.

“I was about to leave, when there was firing at the gate. Later I came to know that one of my guards, Mr Abdul Rashid, had put up stiff resistance against the militants and was killed”. Mr Tarigami owes his life to the great sense of duty shown by his security guard.

Mr Lone’s body was taken to the Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences. From there the body was taken to the J&K police hospital. It was brought out around noon and draped in the Indian tricolour, after which the J&K police sounded the last post.

Governor Lt. Gen. (retd) S.K. Sinha, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, his daughter and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, and various ministers and legislators laid wreaths on the body.

Mr Lone is survived by his wife, a daughter and two sons. Heartrending scenes were witnessed at his residence in Sopore, 56 kilometres away from Srinagar in Baramulla district.

Afterward, draped in a ‘chaddar’ overlaid with Quranic verses, the body was taken to his home village Nowpura, near Sopore, where he was laid to rest.

In a condolence message, the governor termed the killing as “a cowardly act by terrorists, who are continuing violence against the peace-loving people of Jammu and Kashmir even during the month of Ramadan and a time when the people are facing such a great calamity (the earthquake)”.

Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed described Dr Lone as a honest, upright and amenable person.

Dr Lone was born in Nowpura on April 15, 1943. An MD in medicine, he was in the state health department for 33 years. He joined politics after retirement, and won his maiden election from Sangrama constituency in 2002.

He is the third state minister to be killed by militants.

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