Thursday, February 22, 2024

Kashmir: Police detain family members demanding return of dead bodies of killed civilians

Jammu and Kashmir Police have detained family members of Altaf Ahmad Bhat and Mudasir Gul who were killed by Indian armed forces. The family members were on a sit-in protest demanding the return of the dead bodies of their kin at Press Colony in Srinagar. Photo: Sajad Hameed

Jammu and Kashmir Police have detained family members of Altaf Ahmad Bhat and Mudasir Gul who were killed by Indian armed forces. The family members were on a sit-in protest demanding the return of the dead bodies of their kin at Press Colony in Srinagar.

A day after armed forces claimed to have killed two suspected rebels and their “associates” in a gun battle in Kashmir Valley’s Hyderpora locality, the families of at least three deceased men alleged it was a “cold-blooded murder of innocent civilians” and are demanding their bodies be returned to them.

On Wednesday night, the cops have entered Press Colony, the protest site, and turning off the car headlights that were used as the power supply was snapped off.

Police have stopped the traffic movement towards the press colony and electricity has been snapped as night-long protests were going on by the families, Kashmir journalist Shahid Tantray tweeted.

“My father was innocent. He was not a militant. He was a civilian…He was afraid of security forces. Wherever there used to be any untoward incident outside, he would stay indoors and ask chachu [uncle] to check what is happening outside,” Naifa, 13-year-old daughter of businessman 48-year-old Altaf Ahmad Bhat, one of the civilians killed by India’s armed forces told Maktoob.

“I want to ask the army, how did my father become a militant within hours? Where did he get weapons and join militancy? Where did he get himself trained in hours?” she told Maktoob at her home.

While the gunfight has left a trial of questions behind, the eyewitness accused police of putting their lives at risk by using Altaf Ahmad Bhat and 40-year-old Mudasir Gul, a dental surgeon, as “human shields.”

The J&K Police have set up a Special Investigations Team (SIT) to probe the shootout after it raised strong opposition from Kashmiris and a hue and cry on social media.

In the ensuing firing, two suspected militants including a foreigner were killed – identified as Haider, a Pakistani national, while another reportedly hails from Jammu’s Banihal area. Two civilians – Mohammad Altaf Bhat, the owner of the shopping complex, where the shootout took place, a resident of Barzulla and Dr Mudasir Gul, a trained dental surgeon whose laptop repairing shop was housed in the complex – were also killed in the firing.

The bodies were buried miles away from their homes in Sonmarag, their families said.

Kumar in a statement said that Altaf was killed in “cross-fire” while Dr Mudasir, a resident of Kanipora Nowgam was working as an associate of militants, a charge denied by his family who staged a protest demonstration at Srinagar’s Press Enclave on Tuesday morning and accused the security forces of killing him in “cold blood”.

“He was a doctor by profession, not a terrorist. What crime had he committed? Why was he murdered like this?” said a relative of Dr Mudasir – who is survived by parents, wife and 10-year-old daughter.

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