Jammu, Feb 5 (IANS) In a powerful message of being with his own people, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Saturday did not wait even for the weather to clear and left for Handwara where a youth was killed in an army ambush Friday night.
Having expressed his anger and anguish on Twitter over the killing of Manzoor Ahmad, a 21-year-old youth in Chogal village in Handwara area of Kupwara district in northwest Kashmir, Abdullah air dashed to Srinagar and thereafter undertook the 70-km journey by road to the village where protests erupted Saturday.
Official sources said that the “weather was bad and the chopper could not take off”. The chief minister did not wait for the weather to clear and undertook the journey by road to the village.
“This is his bid to tell the people that he is with them,” a close aide of the chief minister told IANS here.
During his more than two years in office, Abdullah has often been charged with not reaching out to the people. He did not visit the family of the two women who died in mysterious circumstances in Shopian in south Kashmir in 2009 and he is still taunted for not visiting the families of the victims killed during clashes with police and paramilitary police forces in the summer of 2010.
The chief minister has tried to send a powerful message that it’s time for him to be with his people.
Handwara assembly constituency is represented by an independent MLA Abdul Rashid Lone, better known as Engineer Rashid, but is a stronghold of the Peoples Conference and the two Lone brothers – Sajjad and Bilal Gani Lone.
Earlier, the chief minister had written on a social website Twitter: “”How can one not condemn the death of 21-year-old Manzoor at the hands of the Army late last night. Another needless death in a bloody Kashmir.”
“Have been trying to understand the circumstances. Lots of questions but not enough answers at the moment,” he said.
“I am even more upset with the knowledge that if a suggestion of mine, made in the Unified Command (sic), could have avoided this incident,” he wrote.
Manzoor Ahmad Magray, 24, a resident of Chogal village in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, some 70 km from here, was killed at around 10.30 p.m. Friday when he walked into an ambush laid by the army for separatist guerrillas, police said.
The army has expressed regret over the killing. “The death of the civilian is regrettable, but we followed the rules of engagement,” an army officer said.
The deceased worked for the Border Roads Organisation and his father is an activist of the ruling National Conference.