Srinagar, June 14: An Army jawan, who was involved in the encounter of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Sameer Tiger, was allegedly kidnapped from Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday.
According to an official statement from the Army, a jawan of 44 Rashtriya Rifles was on his way back to home on leave when he was kidnapped by militants.
The jawan, identified as Aurangzeb, was posted in Shopian where he was part of the Army’s ongoing anti-militant operations.
The abduction comes on a day when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is discussing the extension or calling off of the Ramadan ceasefire that is set to end on Friday.
According to reports, the Army personnel was travelling in a bus and was heading towards his home when he was intercepted and abducted by a group of heavily-armed militants near Kalampora who took him away at gunpoint.
The Army said it has launched a massive search operation to locate the abducted jawan who is a resident of Poonch district.
Sameer Ahmed Bhat, alias Sameer Tiger, the Hizbul Mujahideen’s main recruiter in the Valley, was gunned down in Pulwama on April 30.
He hit the national limelight in November 2017 as the long-haired youth with piercing eyes looking directly into the camera posing with an American M4 carbine in an orchard somewhere in south Kashmir, triggering a debate on how the US-made weapon came to be in the Valley. The photograph was circulated widely on social media.
The man who terrorised the entire Kashmir Valley started out as a chronic stone pelter. The Class 8 dropout emerged as another poster boy for the Hizbul Mujahideen after the death of Burhan Wani in July 2016.
Three months before that, Bhat was picked up by the Jammu and Kashmir police in March 2016 after he was caught pelting stones on security personnel. He was just 18 years old at the time.
He was then counselled by police for nearly two weeks and let off with a condition that he would continue with his studies. Instead, one day, not very long after, his parents approached the Drabgam police station and registered a missing report about their son, officials recounted.
Bhat had fled into the jungles of adjoining Tral and joined the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group besides extending help to other terror outfits.
According to senior police officials, Bhat persuaded about 80 people to join the militancy movement in south Kashmir and repeatedly managed to escape the police dragnet — until now.
After Burhan Wanis death, videos of a bearded, long-haired Bhat appeared on various social networking sites in a bid to entice Kashmiri youths to become militants.
He is also alleged to have abducted small-time political workers and police informers, torture them and record their agony. Bhat would then release the films on social networking sites to scare people.
The incident of abduction comes almost a year after terrorists had kidnapped Ummer Fayaz, a Lieutenant of Rashtriya Rifles, while he was attending a wedding in his family in Shopian. Fayaz’s bullet-riddled body was found the next day.
(With PTI inputs)