Martyred Kashmiri Army Officer’s First Leave Became His Last

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Srinagar: His first leave home became his last. A wedding gathering that he wanted to join turned into his funeral procession.

Martyred Lieutenant Umer Fayaz, 22, from the troubled region of Kulgam district, had joined the Army after being commissioned in December last year.  Fayaz studied at Navodaya Vidyalaya, a branch of government schools for gifted students, at Ashmuquam in South Kashmir. He belonged to the 129th batch of cadets from the prestigious Pune-based National Defence Academy.

He was posted with 2 Rajputana Rifles and had applied for leave to attend a cousin’s wedding.  This was for the first time that he had taken leave after joining the Army, a senior official said. He was supposed to have returned to his unit in the Akhnoor area of Jammu on May 25.

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But that was not to be. Umer Fayaz was kidnapped and killed by terrorists in a dastardly act. Umer was picked up from his house at Harmein in Kulgam, 60 kilometres from here, on Wednesday night. The body of the young officer was later found three kilometres from his house.

Locals said two masked men entered the house at 8 last night. The men asked Lt Fayaz, who was unarmed, to accompany them, and warned the family not to inform the police.  He was fired at from a close range, and the bullets had hit his head and stomach or chest region.

The autopsy report showed marks on his body, indicating that he had resisted the suspected terrorists who had abducted him.  The killing caused anger among locals who demanded that the men responsible be identified and punished. Major General BS Raju, the General Officer in Command of the Victor Force, responsible for counter-terrorism in South Kashmir, has directed all its units in and around the area to launch a manhunt for the killers. The body of the officer was laid to rest with full military honours. His funeral was attended by several people from his village

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley described the abduction and killing as “a dastardly act” of cowardice. “This young officer from J&K was a role model,” Jaitley said in a tweet.