It was the dark night of 2005, when militants barged inside the home of Mohammad Lateef Magrey at Tatharka village in Ramban’s Gool area. They were infuriated over Magrey working with security forces against militancy in the area.
Magrey could sense the intention of gunmen who barged in at the odd hour. However, he was quick enough to pick up a stone and hit the militant with a stone on his head and fled from the place leaving him dead on spot. In the ensuing chaos, Magrey also received a bullet. However, he escaped and moved away with his family to live in Udhampur.
Working as supervisor in Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department, now named ‘Jal Shakti’, Magrey bettered longing from his home with the aim of fighting out militancy.
It was only after some seven years, Magrey came back to his village and started residing in his house. It was after he was provided a round the clock security.
He is a known figure at his village by the virtue of fighting militancy. In fact, some consider him as “prime asset” of security forces, who helped them to “eliminate” militancy from Ramban.
He has won various medals and bravery wards for his anti-militancy work.
“There are gold medals, commendation certificates and bravery certificates from BSF, which my father has been awarded for his work,” says Mohammmad Nadeem, Magrey’s elder son aged 32, who is working in Delhi as security officer of VSG India.
Now in 2021, Magrey family is fighting to “erase” the “label” of militancy that they have been against of all their lives.
Magrey’s second son Mohammad Amir was named by the police among the four killed in Srinagar’s Hyderpora encounter. It included two militants Amir and another Pakistani militant Haider, as per police. Two more people termed by police as militant associates were also killed in the encounter. However the families of the two killed rebutted police claims saying they were used as “human shields” and killed in “cold blood”.
“If he would have been a militant, we would have killed him ourselves,” says Nadeem, elder brother of Amir.
He said that Amir was working as an office boy at Altaf Ahmad Bhat’s iron shop in Srinagar’s Hyderpora for past seven months.
“Our jiju (brother-in-law) has been working at the place from last 12 years. Due to Covid-19, he got a chance to earn some money at the place, which I considered was decent considering the circumstances due to pandemic,” says Nadeem.
Amir as per the family had been sent to Srinagar in 2009, when he was a teenager to study at a local seminary Darul-ul-loom Ashraf-ul-aloom at Hyderpora.
“He did his hafiz(memorized Quran) at the place, besides reading other religious literature. It was like a school for him,” says Nadeem.
After passing out from the seminary at Hyderpora, Amir got enrolled at another seminary Rahimya in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district. “He was admitted there in 2018,” says Nadeem.
It was in 2020, Amir moved to Uttar Pradesh to study at Deoband, before Covid-19 pandemic forced him to move back home. “It was from home, he went to Hyderpora where our brother-in-law works. He got to earn in this pandemic and we were happy, “he says.
The family also contests police claims that their son Amir was a militant saying: “round the clock security around their house would have sensed something wrong with him, if he had any militancy links”.
The family says they have no “patronage for militancy” and have in fact worked against it, for which they have immensely suffered.
“We are a family of one sister and four brothers,” says Nadeem and immediately corrects himself. “Now only three”.
Magrey other sons Mohammad Danish is studying civil engineering in Gujarat, while his younger son Mohammad Naveed is studying in 12th class.
The family says “wrong has been committed” and they want body of their son for “proper burial”.
“Enquiry should be conducted so that facts are brought to fore. The DC sahib (deputy commissioner) has called my father to his office. Hope justice is done,” says Nadeem.
The Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has already orderd magisterial enquiry by additional district magistrate rank officer in the incident. “…Govt will take suitable action as soon as report is submitted in a time bound manner. JK adminreiterates commitment of protecting lives of innocent civilians and it will ensure there is no injustice”.
However, the political parties in J&K have demanded judicial probe with former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah saying: “Under current environment in J&K it will take an extremely braved magisterial enquiry to counter to what has been put by the police in public domain already. So, therefore I am deeply skeptical that magisterial enquiry will deliver the truth”.
The Amir’s family echoes the similar words saying: “conduct an impartial probe” to “erase” label of militancy on their family, which has been loyal to the nation only.