Hyderpora Encounter - Families and Opposition Demand Judicial Probe
All Photographs BASIT ZARGAR
On Monday evening Jammu and Kashmir police claimed to have killed two militants in an encounter at Hyderpora area of Srinagar. Two civilians also died in the encounter. Families have been out on the roads since, asking for the dead bodies and demanding a judicial probe.
"Soon after the news broke about the encounter in Hyderpora Altaf Ahmad Bhat’s family members were worried about the the incident and dialled his number but he did not answer and after repeated attempts they found the number was switched off, “ Ahmad’s elder brother Abdullah Majeed said. Ahmad was killed in the encounter.
"I came to know through the social media that Ahmad had received a bullet injury during the exchange of fire and I rushed to the spot and the police directed me to the Police Control Room (PCR)" Majeed said.
"When I reached the PCR we waited till 2 am outside to get a glimpse of my brothers body but could not,” he added.
"Ahmad was doing business for the last three decades at the same place and was dealing with construction material, how could he be a militant sympathiser," Majeed cried wondering what would happen to his wife and minor children.
"Irony is that none of the government official has approached to us so far regarding the incident and we don't even know where my brother was buried none of the family member was called for the last rites,” Majeed told The Citizen. The police said that they had not released the body to prevent a law and order situation. .
Hands folded the family requested LG Manoj Sinha for a judicial enquiry into the incident. And to return the body for the last rites.
A video of Bhat’s young daughter has since gone viral where shaken and in tears she has described the encounter asking over and over again why they had to kill her father.
As per the police statement besides Ahmad, others killed were two miltants and a dental surgeon cum contractor Mudasir Gull.
Police said that Ahmad had rented out the first floor of the building to Gull, who used the space for carrying out militant activities, an allegation that was refuted by the family.
Inspector General of Police Kashmir Zone told reporters in Srinagar that Gull had provided shelter to slain militants and was working as an Over Ground Worker.
The family of Mudasir Gull contested the police claims and protested at the Press enclave at Srinagar while demanding justice and his body for the last rites.
Gull’s wife told reporters that her husband did not have any links with militant organisations.
"I know his every secret he was dedicated to his work and never indulged in any wrongful activity, “ she said.
"If the police thought he was an OGW they should have arrested him , what was the need to kill him,” she asked.
One of the slain militant identified in the encounter as per the police statement was Amir Magray son of Abdul Latif Magray, resident of Ramban district. His family too insisted he was not a militant but was working at a local shop as a labourer.
Abdul Latif father of slain Amir said, "I have myself killed a terrorist with a stone. I have taken terrorists' bullets. We had to migrate from our home for 11 years."
"Denial of the dead body of my son is the reward of the fight against terrorists.My home is still guarded by the police, “ he said.
The other militant killed in the encounter is belived to be a foreign national Haider.
The police said that the bodies of both Altaf Ahmad and Gul had not been handed over to their families as there were apprehensions of law and order situation.
"They were interred in Handawara", the police said.
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir police has constituted a Special Investigation Team to probe the sequence of events that led to the encounter.
The killings were condemned by leaders of various political parties who demanded a judicial enquiry into the incident.
People's Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti tweeted :
"Using innocent civilians as human shields, getting them killed in cross firing & then conveniently labelling them as OGWs is part of GOIs rulebook now. Imperative that a credible judicial enquiry is done to bring out the truth & put an end to this rampant culture of impunity."
National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah also demanded a probe into the killings.
In a tweet, Omar said that an impartial and credible inquiry into the recent encounter in Hyderpora is an absolute necessity.
"There are far too many questions being raised about the encounter & about the people killed", Omar tweeted.
Demanding a judicial enquiry, CPI( M) leader and former legislator Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said that it was very unfortunate that two more citizens lost their lives.
"We strongly demand judicial enquiry into the incident so that their families get at the truth", Tarigami added.
The families were forcibly removed from the protest site by the police late at night.
Mir Zeeshan is a Kashmir based Independent Multimedia Journalist.
He tweets @mirzeshu.