Uncommon in the past 25 years of the militancy in Kashmir, the authorities have proved a popular claim on the identity of a slain militant wrong, leading to a peaceful burial of the body on Friday.
A youth in his early twenties, who died in a gunfight with the police and security forces at Hushroo in Budgam district on Thursday, was officially said to be the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s dreaded Pakistani militant Omar Bilal. Officials said he had shot dead the Station House Officer of Chadoura, Shabir Ahmed, on December 2.
However, the members of a family, backed by their fellow villagers, blocked his burial at Khansahab, claiming that he was Showkat Ahmad Lone of Lelhaar in Pulwama, who had gone missing on November 24. After the identification, they clashed with the police, demanded custody of the body and alleged that “an innocent Kashmiri civilian has been killed in a fake encounter and falsely labelled as a Pakistani militant.”
On Friday, when members of the Pulwama family were called for identification, including collection of samples for DNA testing, they admitted that it was not Showkat.
Superintendent of Police Mohammad Irshad and Deputy Commissioner of Budgam Khursheed Ahmad Shah told The Hindu that Showkat’s mother Khatoon and brother Bashir disowned the body.
“We recorded their statements, though they confirmed that it was not Showkat’s body. As a precautionary measure, I still ordered a DNA testing. On my request, the principal of the Government Medical College, Srinagar, arranged for collection of the blood and tissue samples of the unclaimed body and those of Showkat’s family members,” Mr. Shah said. A team of doctors, headed by Fareeda Noor, Head of Forensic Medicine Department of the GMC, conducted the process.
Sources said the DNA test report would be made available to the Budgam District Magistrate by next week. Showkat’s brother Riyaz told The Hindu that there was a “total mismatch” between his brother’s and the militant’s face and other physical features.
Pulwama Superintendent of Police Tejinder Singh said Showkat’s missing report No. 10, dated November 24, 2013, was still under investigation. His subordinate officials insisted that Showkat had gone underground to join the LeT. They claimed he was in liaison with his neighbour Bilal Ahmad Bhat, a wanted militant.