Thursday, Mar 30, 2023

My Child Was Only 16. Give Me His Body Or Bury Me There With Him: J-K Youth’s Father

My Child Was Only 16. Give Me His Body Or Bury Me There With Him: J-K Youth’s Father

Families of killed Kashmir youth seek bodies, not money

Class XI student Athar Mushtaq was one of three youths killed in the alleged gunfight in Srinagar on Wednesday. Umer Asif

Families of the youth killed on the outskirts of Srinagar in an alleged “encounter” by the army today sought bodies of their children and probe into their killings. The families have been saying the youth have been killed in a fake encounter by the army.

The wailing relatives, neighbours and parents were carrying placards saying they are seeking an inquiry into the “fake encounter” and at the same time bodies of the killed youth should be returned to them.

The wailing relatives, neighbours and parents hold placards to seek justice| Picture credit: Umer Asif 

Mushtaq Ahmad, whose 16-year-old son Athar Mushtaq was among the killed, said he has lost everything. “Bury me also along with my child. I have nothing in my life now. I don’t need anything. Return the body of my child and that is it.”

The distraught father who was denied the right to bury his son in his home village, on Saturday dug a grave at his village in the hope of getting the body back some day to be buried there.

“Return my child or bury me with my child. I don’t need money. I need only the body of my child,” the wailing father said. “Kill me also in the encounter and you will get a reward of it.”

Class XI student Athar Mushtaq was one of three youths killed in the alleged gunfight in Srinagar on Wednesday. The others were Aijaz Ahmad Ganai, 20, son of a police head constable, and Zubair Ahmad Lone, a resident of Shopian and brother of two policemen.

Soon after the encounter, the relatives staged a protest outside the police control room in Srinagar seeking their bodies. The police didn’t hand over their bodies, instead took them to Sonmarg on Srinagar-Leh highway in north Kashmir and buried them there.

The families of Athar and Zubair Ahmad Lone assembled here at Srinagar’s Press Enclave and called for justice and return of the bodies.

Mohammad Shafi Lone, elder brother of Zubair, said there are a lot of contradictions in the statements issued by the police and the army. “We want that we should be given back the bodies of our children,” he said.

“My brother was at home at 2pm on that day. There was no record with any security agency against him. How could he become a militant within two hours? Even we assume for argument’s sake that my brother was two-hour militant, they should have called us to the encounter site. They didn’t even inform us,” he said.

“We want an inquiry. Before this, the same thing happened in Shopian. In the Shopian case also they said they recovered weapons from the dead militants,” Lone, who is himself a cop, said. “We want justice and bodies of our children,” he added.

Last Wednesday after the alleged “encounter”, at a press briefing, General Officer Commanding (GoC) Kilo Force H.S. Sahi said, “We had been getting inputs about militant movement on the national highway. The operation was launched last evening after getting inputs that militants were inside a house close to the national highway. They were asked to surrender, however, they responded with firing, and the operation was suspended for the night.”

The incident took place days after the police in Kashmir filed a chargesheet in case of a fake gunfight in which the army had killed three labourers in Shopian and passed them off as Pakistani militants.

In July last year, the army claimed to have killed three militants in Shopian, saying they were Pakistani militants. But after months of investigation, the police revealed that the three killed were civilians who had come to Shopian for work from Rajouri in Jammu. The police investigation said the Army Captain Bhoopendra Singh alias Major Basheer Khan hatched a conspiracy along with the two local residents “to abduct and stage the encounter”.

The police have arrested two civilian accused and lodged them in judicial custody. However, Captain Bhoopendra Singh alias Major Basheer Khan of 62 RR is yet to be arrested. The chargesheet said it is necessary to obtain sanction against him under the AFSPA before he can be prosecuted.