The slain police officers’ colleagues in Kalmoona said the unprecedented cycle of violence took Arshid away from us.
SRINAGAR — Pall of gloom descended on Kalmoona village—20 kilometres from northern Kashmir’s Kupwara town—on Sunday afternoon as the news about the killing of Arshid Ashraf spread.
Arshid, 27, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman in the afternoon. He was a probationary sub-inspector posted in Khanyar police station.
Arshid’s killing has also raised concern among police personnel. This year two dozen security personnel have been killed in combat and militant attacks.
In June, militants had killed an intelligence officer of the JKP Criminal Investigation Department while on his way to a mosque for evening prayers. The incident was caught on a CCTV camera as well. Around the same time, another policeman who was part of the security provided to a judicial officer was killed off-duty outside his home in Srinagar.
According to official data, not more than five militants are active in Srinagar and its outskirts. But several offices in the security establishment had warned of an escalation in violence in the city.
At his home, in Kalmoona, Arshid’s father Muhammad Ashraf, a schoolmaster, is numb. He is yet to come to terms with Arshid’s death. Junaid, Arshid’s friend, said that soon after the news came in, Ashraf fell unconscious.
Arshid was the eldest son among four siblings—three brothers and one sister—and had a masters degree in Botany. Before joining the police in 2018, he was selected for a position in the Food and Supplies department. But, before joining the department on June 19 that year, his name surfaced in a police selection list. He shunned joining the F&S department and instead chose to join the Police.
“You are not made for a Police job,” Junaid, Arshid’s friend, recalled telling him. But, it was not just Junaid, many other friends and relatives of Arshid told him he cannot be a good policeman. “Arshid was a humble, sober and down-to-earth boy.”
Arshid’s killing has enveloped the village in darkness and mourning. Villagers in small groups narrate his stories of nobility. They remember Arshid as a dedicated, efficient and an honest person.
Irshad, a cousin of Arshid said he has never met such a noble person in his life. “He may have never hurt anyone. Not even a kid,” he said, and added with tears in eyes, “So gentle, he was.”
Arshid’s colleagues in Kalmoona said, “the unprecedented cycle of violence took Arshid away from us”.
Arshid was posted in Police Station Kara Nagar and was transferred to Police Station Khanyar just a fortnight ago, from where he returned in a shroud to his native village.
On Sunday afternoon, Arshid was shot multiple times on his head. He crashed to the ground.
CCTV footage of the attack showed a gunman fired at Mir at least twice from point-blank range. The footage of the incident went viral on social media. A police official said that Arshid was deputed to a person for a check-up in Gousia Hospital Srinagar. While he was coming out of the hospital, he was shot at.
The CCTV footage showed a suspected militant appearing from behind Arshid and opening fire at him with a pistol. Arshid was critically wounded in the shooting incident and was immediately taken to SK Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Srinagar where he died of his injuries.
As the body of Arshid reached his village later in the evening, hundreds of villagers thronged his home and participated in his funeral prayers. The women wailed and the men shrieked. Together, they sang lullabies for Arshid as if sending him to sleep.
At his funeral, a local Imam, who led his Namaz-e-Janazah, described Arshid as a modest man who was regarded highly in the village. “We have lost a gem,” he proclaimed and prayed for peace to Arshid.
Meanwhile, in Srinagar, the Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said they have identified the militants responsible for the attack but refused to disclose their identities. He termed Arshid’s killing a “very tragic loss” for the police department and his family.
“The perpetrators of crime have been identified and they will be brought to justice,” he said.
The mainstream political parties also condemned the killing.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Sorry to hear about the death in the line of duty of Sub Inspector Arshad Mir of @JmuKmrPolice in a dastardly attack in the heart of Srinagar city. A young life with so much promise, another grieving family….”
Former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said she was saddened to hear about the death of Arshid. She prayed for peace and condolences to the deceased’s family.
Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone said that by killing Arshid, the militants have yet again made an addition to the army of orphans.
Muhammad Raafi is a desk editor at the Mountain Ink. In about eight years of his career, he has reported for FT, Vice News, Al Jazeera English, TRT World, New Frame, The Wire and Article-14 among others.