Srinagar, Aug 9: Police are verifying the authenticity of an audio message claiming that rifleman of Territorial Army (TA), kidnapped on August 2 in south Kashmir, has been killed, official sources said.
They said an audio message surfaced this morning in which it was claimed that rifleman Shakir Manzoor has been killed. However, the 3.13 minute audio statement did not identify the militant organization responsible for the kidnapping and killing of the rifleman.
The message however, said that due to COVID-19 pandemic the body of Manzoor was not handed over to his family members and his last rites were performed just like security forces bury bodies of militants in unmarked graves. But we can understand the pain of soldier’s family and friends who were not handed over the body, the message said.
The audio message came a day after father of the rifleman appealed for the release of his son. However, he said that if his son has been killed at least his body be given to perform the last rites.
Official sources said that security forces are already working to trace the missing rifleman Shakir Manzoor of 162 TA. However, so far no breakthrough was achieved, they said.
They said sniffer dogs were also pressed into service after torn clothes of rifleman were recovered from an orchard Landoora, Shopian, on Friday.
Sources said rifleman Manzoor was reported missing since 1700 hrs on last Sunday. However, his abandoned burnt car was later found at Rambhama Kulgam same evening, they said adding it is suspected that the soldier has been abducted by militants.
Sources said Shakir, who had come to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha with family, had left his home at Harmain Shopian Sunday evening in the car. However, when he did not return, police was informed and a massive hunt was launched to trace him.
This is not the first time soldiers who had come on leave to celebrate festivals or other social gatherings with their were abducted by militants in south Kashmir. However, some of them were released while others were killed.
Army officer Lieutenant Umar Fayaz was abducted and later killed by militants in May 2017 in Shopian in south Kashmir.
The Army authorities had directed all soldiers from Kashmir to take extra precautions when they visit home on leave.