Three days after Lt. Umar Fayaz Parray was killed by suspected militants in Shopian, his father said the slain officer “always dreamt to serve his nation”.
“He always had a dream to become an officer and serve the nation,” said Fayaz Ahmad Parray, sitting distraught in his home.“I am an illiterate and have lived a farmer’s life, but I always supported him through thick and thin. He was always proud for being a farmer’s son.”
Lt. Fayaz’s death, the father said, has shattered the dreams of the family.
A doctor in the Indian Army’s Rajputana Rifles, posted in Akhnoor, Lt. Fayaz, 22, was on a holiday in Kashmir to attend his cousin’s wedding party in Batpora, Matribug village in the Shopian district of Kashmir.
In the intervening night of May 09, he was abducted by a group of three masked men, and by the morning, his bullet-ridden body was recovered in the Hermain Chowk of Shopian.
Lt. Fayaz had been commissioned in the army only five months ago, in December 2016.
“It is hard for me to believe that my son is not alive,” the father said. “I am completely shattered and hopeless now. How can I survive without him? He was my staff. His death has shattered our entire family.”
The army leutenant’s death was termed as the handiwork of the suspected militants whose Wanted posters appeared in Shopian on Friday.
But United Jihad Council (UJC) on Friday evening denied the killing.
“Our militants are not involved in the murder of Lt Umar Fayaz,” UJC spokesman Syed Sadaqat Hussain quoting the UJC chief, said in an emailed statement to a Srinagar-based news agency.
“Such a killing is condemnable. An officer from a pro-freedom family was murdered by the Indian agencies and militants are being accused of it, to shield the real face of the Indian agencies.”
Earlier, the union defense minister Arun Jaitley termed the abduction and murder of a Kashmiri army officer “by terrorists in Shopian a dastardly act of cowardice”.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti condemned the killing, saying, “What was more painful to note is that the young officer had come home on a vacation, where he was attending the marriage of his cousin.”
Lt. Fayaz studied at Navodaya Vidyalya, a branch of Govt. schools for gifted students in Kashmir’s Ashmuqam area. He belonged to the 129th batch of cadets from Pune-based National Defense Academy.
According to the locals, the killing of the armyman is the first incident since 1991 where a local Kashmiri officer on a leave was killed “mercilessly with clear gunshots in his jaw and abdomen”.
“We lost an important pillar in our family,” said Muhammad Maqbool, maternal uncle of Lt. Fayaz, in whose daughter’s marriage Umae was abducted.
“Everything was going fine. Umar came to attend the wedding with a lot of excitement. He directly went to the bride’s room and greeted her before the three masked men asked for him.”
As soon as they caught him, the uncle said, the family tried hard to stop them for taking him away “but they took him by force, took him away and later gave us his bullet-ridden body.”
“I wish to see him in heaven hereafter,”said Mushtaq Ahmad, the lieutenant’s neighbour. “He was adamant to serve his nation; he was dynamic, down-to-earth and always an achiever.”
Fazlu Rehman contributed to this story.