Jammu and Kashmir Police recently announced a significant breakthrough in the longstanding assassination case of the late Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq. Two Hizb terrorists, who had managed to evade arrest for over three decades, were finally apprehended and handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), marking a crucial step towards achieving justice.
The tragic incident occurred on May 21, 1990, at Mirwaiz’s residence in Nigeen, where he was brutally killed. Following the assassination, a case was registered at the Nigeen police station under FIR 61/1990 and later transferred to the CBI. One suspect had been previously arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment based on the evidence presented by the CBI before the TADA court.
After an extensive and challenging legal process of investigation and prosecution, the designated TADA court convicted the only arrested accused, Ayub Dar, in 2009, sentencing him to life imprisonment. The remaining four suspects had been on the run. While two of them, Abdullah Bangroo and Rehman Shigan, died in encounters, Javaid Bhat and Ayub Bhat managed to evade capture.
After years of ongoing pursuit, it was determined that Zahoor Bhat, the terrorist who pulled the trigger on Mirwaiz Farooq under the directions of then HM commander Abdullah Bangroo, had managed to escape arrest by going into hiding.
During a press conference held at the police control room (PCR), Special Director General of Police (CID), RR Swain, shed light on the progress made in the investigation. It was revealed that Hizb commander Abdullah Bangroo had orchestrated the conspiracy to assassinate Mirwaiz. Bangroo, along with his associate, was killed in separate encounters, while another suspect was already serving a life sentence. The remaining two accused, identified as Javaid Bhat and Zahoor Ahmed Bhat, both residents of Srinagar, had managed to evade capture by seeking refuge in Pakistan and Nepal.
The State Investigating Agency (SIA) successfully tracked down and arrested the absconding terrorists, who were proclaimed offenders. The duo has now been handed over to the CBI for further legal proceedings. Notably, Zahoor Ahmed Bhat, one of the arrested terrorists, was the individual who entered Mirwaiz’s bedroom and opened fire, leading to his untimely demise. However, the specific location of their arrest has not been disclosed by the special DG CID.
An analysis conducted by local officers, who possess deep knowledge and understanding of the evolving circumstances, reveals that two factors aided the hiding terrorists more than their own skills and abilities. Firstly, the ISI carried out a highly successful narrative operation, distorting reality and replacing it with falsehoods that influenced public memory. Secondly, the terror eco-system, including a compromised criminal justice administration system and a partially coerced political framework, neglected the importance of upholding the rule of law and countering the enemy narrative. However, all of this changed following the abrogation on August 5, 2019.
The arrests of these two Hizb terrorists provide closure to a case that has haunted the region for over three decades. The relentless efforts of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, coupled with the collaborative work of the CBI, have ensured that all individuals involved in the heinous crime against Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq have been brought to justice. This breakthrough in the high-profile case is expected to bring a sense of relief and closure to the family of the late Mirwaiz and the people of Jammu and Kashmir.