Retired SSP shot dead by terrorists while offering 'azaan' in J-K's Baramulla

Mohammad Shafi was shot inside a mosque early today, police said.
Security forces stand guard during an encounter with militants in  Kashmir. (File Photo | PTI)
Security forces stand guard during an encounter with militants in Kashmir. (File Photo | PTI)

SRINAGAR:  A 72-year-old retired police officer, who was the local "muezzin", was shot dead by terrorists while he was giving azaan the call for prayer -- from a mosque in Jammu and Kashmir's Baramulla district on Sunday, police said.

Recalling the moments before Mohammad Shafi Mir was killed, his cousin Mohammad Mustafa, who was at home, said the call for the pre-dawn prayers was being given by a loudspeaker and suddenly it stopped.

Mir's last words were "reham" (mercy), he said.

The "azaan" had stopped at "Ashhadu Anna Mohammadu Rasool-Allah (I bear witness that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah)", Mustafa said.

Police said Mir retired as a senior superintendent of police (SSP) in 2012.

He was shot dead by terrorists inside the mosque in the Gantmulla locality of the north Kashmir district's Sheeri area, they said.

"Terrorists fired upon Shri Mohd Shafi, a retired police officer, at Gantmulla, Sheeri Baramulla, while praying 'azaan' in the mosque and succumbed to injuries," the Kashmir Zone Police said in a post on X.

Police have launched a search operation in the area to nab the assailants.

Mir had become the local "muezzin" -- a person who calls for prayers -- and he was devoted to his duties at the mosque, his family members said.

Following the incident, a large number of people gathered at Mir's house and at the mosque complex. Mir is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

Talking to reporters, Mustafa said, "He (Mir) was my cousin. He used to call for prayers every day. This morning, while I was reading the Quran, he started the 'azaan', so I closed the Quran."

"He recited 'Ashhadu Anna Mohammadu Rasool-Allah' and then the 'azaan' stopped. I only heard a shout of 'reham'. It was in a heavy voice," he said.

Mustafa said he thought Mir might have stopped his call due to some other reason and guessed he could have collapsed due to dizziness.

But after some time people came to know about the incident, he said.

"My daughter came and told me that Shafi uncle has died. We went to his house and learnt that Mir had been taken to Baramulla (hospital) we were told he had suffered bullet injuries," he said.

Some of Mir's relatives claimed he was shot four times.

Mir's younger brother Abdul Kareem said he was sleeping, but was woken up by sounds which he assumed could have been caused because of a problem in the microphone.

"My daughter-in-law said she heard people crying," he said.

"Mir used to give the call for 'azaan' every day. I think this was planned as the Imam Sahib (prayer leader) goes home on Saturday and returns on Sunday," Kareem said.

Political parties condemned the killing and expressed their condolences to the former police officer's family.

The National Conference (NC) said violence can never be tolerated in any form.

"JKNC president Dr Farooq Abdullah and VP @OmarAbdullah express profound sadness over the tragic Baramulla incident, where retired SP Mohammad Shafi was senselessly shot dead," the party said in a post on X.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said innocent people have become "collateral damage to maintain the facade of normalcy touted" by the Centre.

"Five jawans martyred in a militant ambush, three innocent civilians tortured to death in custody by army, many still battling for their lives in hospitals and now a retired SP killed.

Innocent people have become collateral damage to maintain the facade of normalcy touted by GoI," Mufti posted on X.

The BJP termed the act dastardly and said terror and terrorists have no religion.

"Dastardly act of killing of 72-year-old retired police officer by those who have no religion. The sons of devil can't even tolerate 'azaan'. Terror and terrorists have no religion. Strongly condemn this killing, express my solidarity with the bereaved family," Jammu and Kashmir BJP spokesman Altaf Thakur said.

Democratic Progressive Azad Party chief Ghulam Nabi Azad said the government must take decisive measures to crack down on terrorism.

"Alarmed by the rising terrorist attacks in J&K. The killing of the ex-SSP Mohd Shafi Mir in Baramulla is condemnable. Urgent action is needed. The government must take decisive measures to crack down on terrorism and ensure the safety of all citizens!" he said on X.

Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari in a post on X said, "Condemn the cowardly killing of retired SSP Mr.

Mohammad Shafi Mir in Gantmulla, Baramulla.

My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family in this hour of utter grief and demise. May the departed soul rest in peace and solace in the world hereafter.

He said the cowardly act goes on to show the true colours of the killers as the slain was shot upon while giving a call for prayer.

Peoples Conference president Sajad Lone also condemned the killing.

"Yet another sad news. My prayers and thoughts are with the family of Mohd Shafi Sahib. May Allah grant him Jannat. And hope that J-K Police recognises the challenges facing it. Evaluating security threat is a science and can't be left to likes and dislikes, and whims," Lone said in a post on X.

Separatist Hurriyat Conference, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, also expressed pain and sorrow at the ex-cop's killing.

The Hurriyat expressed sympathy and condolences with the bereaved family.

In a statement, it said such killings are a blot on humanity and only bring disgrace to the people and place where they are committed.

"They are no solution to resolve conflicts and only cause grief and suffering. In principle Hurriyat condemns them as it condemns all state and non-state acts of force, violence, killing and disempowerment," the statement said.

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