By Aasif Sultan
A Srinagar family of Old Barzulla area claims that a militant killed in frontier district Kupwara in north Kashmir on Friday morning by the Army is their son who had left his home in January 2017.
They claim that what Police and Army refer to as “unknown militant” is their 32-year-old son Mudasir Ahmad Bhat who was missing since January 2017.
“An unknown person dropped a chit at our home on Saturday which stated that Mudassir had joined Lashkar-e-Toiba after he went missing in January last year,” says Bhat’s brother Ilyas Ahmad.
He also says that they had no information about their son and had filed a missing report with Police.
On Sunday, the family staged a protest in Srinagar’s press enclave to demand the dead body of their son which they claim had died in the Friday gunfight. Youth clashed with police and pro-freedom songs were blarred from mosques in Old Barzulla while demanding Mudasir’s body.
What strengthens the family’s claim is the denial of Kupwara Police to share a picture of the slain militant who was killed in Trehgam forests.
“His father, Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, went to Kupwara yesterday. The SHO Kupwara was rude and denied sharing the slain militant’s picture. He simply said that he is dead and buried,” says a close relative of Bhat’s, adding that the family wants to exhume the buried militant in order to end their suspicion.
A number of calls to SSP Kupwara Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar by this reporter evoked no response.
Police, most of the times, release pictures of slain militant for identification. Recently, two south Kashmir families had identified their dead militant sons on social media after the Police had released their pictures. The authorities handed over the families their sons after one week and they very buried in their respective villages.
According to locals, Bhat was a known stone-pelter in the area and was arrested by the Police during 2016 agitation. Then he went missing in January 2017, they say.
Srinagar-based Defense spokesperson Col Rajesh Kalia says that “the Army authorities must’ve followed the SOP on the subject” when asked why the forces didn’t capture the picture of the slain militant for identification.
Recently, the Indian Express had published a report saying that the police “will decide on a case-to-case basis on whether to pass on the body to a slain militant’s family. Authorities may decide on burying militants killed in encounters at the place nearest to the encounter site, it is learnt.”
This was after forces had urged Government of India to not handover bodies of local militants to their families fearing huge funerals.
In 2015, the authorities decided to deny locals the dead bodies of foreign militants after Lashkar commander Abu Qasim attracted a mammoth gathering at his funeral. Since then, foreign militants are secretly buried in north Kashmir.