Two families of Srinagar, whose kin were among the four killed in the Hyderpora “encounter” on Monday evening and buried at a far-off hillock in Handwara, on Wednesday held a sit-in at the Press Enclave and demanded the return of the bodies of “civilians”.
“I am his wife. I know for sure he was not an overground worker [of militants]. I give licence to the police to kill me and my two-year-old daughter if my husband turns out to be a militant. He was preparing to see parents go on the Haj pilgrimage. Now, allow my daughter to have the last glimpse of her father’s face,” Dr. Mudasir Gul’s wife, Humaira Gul, said.
The police on Tuesday said Dr. Gul, one among the four killed, would “harbour militants” and provide them “shelter”, besides running a call centre. However, the allegations were outrightly rejected by the family members, who vouch for his innocence.
“He was a doctor and was earning his livelihood in a clean manner. Provide us proof of his links,” Ms. Gul said.
Seek LG’s intervention
Family members, accompanying Ms. Gul, sought the intervention of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to help in the return of the body.
Dr. Gul was living in a rented room in the building where the police said the encounter took place which, according to the police, also left a foreign militant Haider dead.
Dr. Haneef Ahmed, brother of another victim Altaf Bhat, a civilian who owned the house, asked the police to return the body of Bhat, “who was even declared a civilian by the police".
“When the Inspector General of Police [IGP] himself admits Altaf was innocent, why was he buried in Handwara? If the police don’t give us his body back, we will block all roads,” the relatives said. “This has happened with us today and may happen with others tomorrow,” the kin, carrying placards seeking justice, stated.
The father of deceased Amir Ahmad from Banihal, whom the police have accused of being a ‘hybrid militant’, also claimed that his son was innocent. “He worked as a helper. My family has killed militants and migrated out of fear. Now we are being accused of being militants,” he said. He appealed to the administration to return the body.
The police on Tuesday said it buried the bodies around 70 km away from Srinagar “to maintain law and order”.
Mehbooba stages protest
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti held a street protest in Jammu and demanded action against those involved in the killing of civilians. She also demanded the immediate handing over of the body to the family for a decent burial.
National Conference Members of Parliament, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi, in a joint statement, demanded an impartial and time-bound probe.
“The Centre should spare a thought on the impact of such killings and the subsequent culture of impunity the civilian killings have created on the psyche of people. The contrasting versions of the killings have sent across a wave of fear across Kashmir. Varying versions have raised the misgivings among the people, particularly the bereaved families,” the statement said.