In Kashmir, militants abduct policemen at dusk. It is a careful strategy to avoid leaving footprints that can be tracked in populated areas during the day. The targets are taken away with such meticulousness that it leaves them no time to react. Brought to an orchard few miles away, militants torture them and ‘confessional videos’ are also shot.
On the next day, their bullet-riddled bodies are found by locals, mainly by men coming out of mosques after offering morning prayers. As news spreads and tensions swell, immediately, as if on cue, a video goes viral on social media about the deceased, listing out his ‘bad’ deeds, in his own words, his ‘betrayal’ of the Kashmir cause, his ‘selling-out’ of the blood of Kashmiris and such, while a gun is held at his head.
However, in case of Mohammad Saleem Shah, the abductors decided to take the risk. Saleem, a special police officer, left his home in south Kashmir’s Kulgam on Friday evening for a fishing expedition with three friends. He enjoyed fishing so much that even the fear of three dozen militants active in the district couldn’t deter him from following his passion.
“They came with guns and separated him from his friends,” Abdul Gani Shah, 68, father of Saleem and a resident of Mutalhama area of Qaimoh, Kulgam, said on Sunday morning.
Shah is inconsolable. He intermittently cries out the name of his son, loudly and painfully, and curses his elder son for failing to get his brother home for last time so that he could hug him. Saleem was working as a labourer before going on to become a special police officer (SPO). He was inducted as constable in the Jammu and Kashmir Police in 2016 and was (at present) posted at the District Police Lines in Pulwama. Ten days ago, he returned home to arrange for his younger sister’s engagement ceremony.