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Dance of death on bloody Saturday - Kuka Parray shot in third weekend hit

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  • Published 13.09.03

Srinagar/Delhi, Sept. 13: Kuka Parray, the father of the counter-insurgency movement in Kashmir, was killed in an audacious militant strike on the third blood-splattered Saturday in the state in a row.

Mohammad Youssuf Parray aka Kuka Parray was on his way to a school compound for a cricket match, where he was to be the chief guest, when militants ambushed his vehicle in Hajan village, 40 km from Srinagar.

In a rash of attacks, three army jawans and a major were killed in an early morning fidayeen strike on an army camp near the Line of Control in Kupwara and two civilians died in a mine blast on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.

“Kuka Parray was the symbol of counter-insurgency, his death is a major blow to the security forces in their fight against terror. It will raise the morale of militants who had tried unsuccessfully to get him several times,” a senior bureaucrat in Delhi acknowledged. Police in Srinagar described the killing as a serious setback.

Just over two weeks ago, Parray’s close associate, Javed Ahmad Shah, was killed in a suicide strike in Srinagar while Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his cabinet colleagues and several chief ministers were in town.

“The militants first hurled a hand-grenade on the vehicle and later sprayed bullets from their automatic weapons,” a senior police officer said. “The attack was so swift that the police guards of Parray could not return the fire.”

Police were aware Parray would be targeted after Javed was killed as militants tried to disprove Delhi’s claim that normality was returning under chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

The counter-insurgent and seven others were critically injured and taken to the hospital in the nearby army camp. Parray and two of his associates died even as efforts were on to rush them to Srinagar. The body was taken to his home in the village.

Parray and Javed were credited with “turning around the situation in the Valley at the height of militancy”. Police officers in Srinagar privately admit that without the two, the 1996 elections — held after a gap of seven years — would not have been possible.

The Kashmiri folk singer, who made a living out of performing at weddings before becoming a militant, left the separatist ranks in 1995 and founded his pro-India militant outfit, Ikhwan-ul Muslemoon.

Parray’s death will hit the morale of the Ikhwanis — the surrendered militants who flocked to him for protection and helped the security forces — and seriously affect the flow of information on militants at a time when violence has renewed.

Tension gripped Hajan after the attack on Parray at the main chowk. Senior state officials, including Kashmir divisional commissioner Parvez Dewan, who were inside the cricket ground, were escorted to Srinagar. The al-Nasiree and the Kashmir Freedom Force have admitted responsibility for Parray’s killing.

Today was the third violent Saturday in a row — Gazi Baba, the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief in the Valley, was gunned down on August 30 and a car bomb in Srinagar killed seven on September 6. (Picture on P 6)