Sopore trader missing, police say ‘couldn’t find leads despite all attempts’

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On the evening of 22 September 2021, 48-year-old businessman Ghulam Nabi Naikoo parked his vehicle at home at around 3pm in north Kashmir’s Sopore area to leave for Shopian district to recover money from a non-Kashmiri trader, who owed him money.

Naikoo, who is associated with fruit business, boarded a train from his hometown, as per family members to trace the trader “who has been absconding since 2018 as he owed over one lakh rupees to him,” said Gh Rasool Naikoo, 59-year-old brother of Naikoo, who along with over a dozen family members including children and women were protesting in the Srinagar’s Press Enclave on Tuesday.

“In 2018 a customer from Kolkata took fruits from Ghulam Nabi and since then he did not pay him the money,” said Rasool. “A few days ago somebody told him that the customer, who owed money, is in Shopian market. Initially, he told other businessmen working within the Sopore Mandi to accompany him to recover the money, but it got delayed.”

Naikoo had finally left for Shopian and was connected with his family till minutes before 6pm over mobile phone and then his phone had turned off.

“Since then we have no information of his whereabouts and we want to ask the administration why it has failed to trace him in over two months,” asked Rasool.

“Two days after he went missing we registered a complaint in Sopore police station,” his brother added. “We were told that on the basis of digital evidence his phone was connected to a network in the Vessu area of south Kashmir before it got disconnected from the cellular network.”

Since then the family members have been continuously demanding that Naikoo be traced immediately but all their efforts could not bear results. He is survived by wife and three children.

Family members told The Kashmir Walla that he had spoken to one of his business friends in Shopian and told him that he had to reach Zainapora as somebody had asked him to reach there. 

“We will meet tomorrow,” Naikoo had told his friend over phone, “but never reached there”, the family said.

However, a police officer privy to the case told The Kashmir Walla that despite utilising all the resources they have not been able to trace Naikoo.

“The traders he was supposed to meet were also investigated but it came forth that none among them have visited Kashmir for the past several years. They were not here when the incident took place as they have quit the fruit business after turning defaulters,” the officer told The Kashmir Walla, wishing anonymity.

He said that as per the digital evidence Naikoo had made a last call to his wife at 5:45pm from around Sadoora railway station with phone signal from Vessu cellular tower in Anantnag district of south Kashmir. 

“Since then the phone is not reachable nor is it being used with another sim card,” the officer added. “As per the CCTV footage of nearby Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp he has not deboarded the train at Sadoora railway station.”

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