A 12-year-old boy, Aatif Mir, who had applied for admission in Sainik School and Kendriya Vidyalaya and was keen on going to boarding school, was killed after militants who held him hostage during an encounter refused to let him go, in Hajin area of Bandipora. The militant action is being widely condemned in Kashmir. Both the militants, belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, were also killed in the encounter.
“Aatif and his uncle were in second storey of a house along with the two militants when forces cordoned off the village. Before leaving I asked them to let them go, but they told me to leave. Later, his uncle came out saying Atif has been held hostage. I requested the forces to not fire until my son comes out and they agreed. Later, I appealed to them to leave him. I begged them,” Shameema Banu, his mother, said.
The uncle, 60-year-old Abdul Hameed, who was hostage and escaped during the lull in the gunfight, said the militants heard the appeals but they didn’t allow them to come out of the house. He said during the gunfight he got a chance to escape as he was in another room while the militants had kept the boy with them.
Aatif had had applied for Sainik school and Kendriya Vidyalaya and was supposed to appear in the exams after a few days. He was keen to study in boarding school.
A neighbour, who was also trapped inside his house saw a militant coming near a window with Aatif. He kept the boy in front of him. Aatif was holding his arm with a firm grip, the neighbour said.
According to the police, based on credible inputs about the presence of militants in Hajin area of North Kashmir’s Bandipora district, a cordon and search operation was launched by police and security forces in the area on Thursday evening.
The police said as the searches were going on, the hiding militants fired on the search party. “Initially the militants kept two civilians as hostage. However, police and security forces with the assistance of community members safely rescued one civilian, Abdul Hameed.
“Another civilian 12-year Aatif Mir was kept hostage by the militants till the end, despite repeated requests by community members and police for his release,” the police said. The police said Aatif could not be rescued from the clutches of militants and was killed by them.
Police said the militants fired on the security forces who engaged them in an encounter after the civilians in the adjoining areas had been evacuated to safer places.
“In the ensuing encounter, two militants were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter. From the incriminating material recovered at the site of encounter it is understood that the two killed militants were Pakistani nationals identified as Ali and Hubaib,” the police said.
The police said both were affiliated with proscribed terror outfit LeT. “They were wanted by law for their complicity in a series of terror crimes, including attacks on security force establishments and civilian atrocities. According to police records, they were also responsible for conspiring and executing many terror attacks in the area. Several terror crime cases were registered against them,” the police said.
“Police has registered a case and initiated investigation in the matter. Incriminating materials, including arms and ammunition, were recovered from the site of encounter. All the incriminating material recovered has been taken into case records for further investigation to probe their complicity in other terror cases,” the police said.
Human rights activist, Khuram Parvez said, “Aatif (12) was killed during the encounter at Hajin when the house in which militants were hiding was destroyed by armed forces. Aatif was held hostage by militants. Militants and armed forces are both responsible for this murder. Surely militants are accused of a horrible crime,” said.
“A minor held hostage during an encounter has been killed in Bandipore. Innocent civilians who are struggling to make ends meet have become casualties in the war between militants & armed forces. There is no method in this madness & the future looks bleak,” former Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti said.
A minor held hostage during an encounter has been killed in Bandipore. Innocent civilians who are struggling to make ends meet have become casualties in the war between militants & armed forces. There is no method in this madness & the future looks bleak.— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) March 22, 2019