SHOPIAN: Men from the government forces joining militant ranks in Kashmir was a rare thing but when in March 2015, a cop Nasser Ahmad Pandith fled from official duty and joined militant ranks, his example was followed by many policemen in the southern Kashmir districts. What really surprised the security agencies, however, was the desertion by an army man: Zahoor Ahmad Thoker, a resident of Sirnoo in Pulwama district, decamped with a service weapon and joined the Hizbul Mujahideen on July 29, 2017. He was at the time posted with 173 Territorial Army (Engineering) at Gantmulla Baramulla. This year on April 15, another army soldier did the same.
That soldier, Idrees Ahmad Mir of Safnagri village of Shopian, was killed today in a brief gunfight with government forces at his native village.
People of Safnagri village said that Idrees belonged to a well-off family. They said his father, Muhammad Sultan, is the biggest landlord in the area, owning more than 70 kanals of land.
Idrees’s brother told Kashmir Reader that Idrees was working in the army since March 2015, after leaving his education midway in BSc second year.
He said Idrees has left behind two brothers, two sisters, and his parents.
A relative said that Idrees completed his secondary school education in a nearby village, Wachi, after which he got admission at the degree college in Khanabal Anantnag.
Villagers of Safnagri said that Idrees is the 13th martyr from the village.
Friends of Idrees said that whenever he visited home while being in the army, he used to say that he had not chosen the right job.
Another friend, wishing anonymity, told Kashmir Reader that on April 1 this year, when 12 militants were killed in Shopian, one of the slain militants, Yawar Ahmad, was from Safnagri.
“We sat together in the evening when the funeral of Yawar was over. Idrees told me that there was such a massive gathering of mourners at Yawar’s funeral. I told him it is due to the worth of a martyr, and that no one would attend your funeral. He replied: Note my words, there will be more people than this at my funeral,” the friend said.
Safnagri village is some two kilometers from Zainpora, the sub-district headquarters. At Zainapora, half a dozen establishments of government forces have been set up: an army camp, two CRPF camps, an SOG camp, a police station, and a police post.
People of Safnagri said that for a month they have been subject to nocturnal crackdowns and searches of houses by government forces. “They finally took that what they wanted,” said a resident. The village comprises about 350 households.
Thousands of mourners bid farewell to Idrees at his funeral in Safnagri. Witnesses said that tens of thousands of people participated in four rounds of funeral prayers.