Pulwama Encounter: Inayat’s family plea to return body

Photo: Mir Faizan/Maktoob

On January 3rd, the Government forces claimed to have neutralised five militants in twin encounters in Central Kashmir’s Budgam, and South Kashmir’s Pulwama Naira. In Naira, Pulwama, one of the deceased was the house owner’s son 17 years old Inayat Ahmed, who was described as a hybrid militant by Police. 

The first month of 2022, has witnessed 11 encounters in the Kashmir region alone, in which 21 alleged militants had been gunned down, among them eight were allegedly foreigners. The security forces are facing a newly emerging challenge of what they call “Hybrid militancy”. 

Police maintain that hybrid militants are not listed as militants, but are being radicalised and trained enough to carry out deadly attacks on Government forces and slip back into normal life. While sharing a PowerPoint presentation last month with the media, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Vijay Kumar, said that for the year 2022, hybrid militancy is the biggest challenge for the police.

As Inayat’s family came to know that their son had also been killed with other militants, they travelled to Srinagar’s police control room (PCR), asking to return the dead body. The relatives of Inayat Ahmed were shocked to hear that Inayat was killed.

Days before the encounter, Inayat’s grandmother had passed away in Trisal, an adjoining village of Naira Pulwama.

The family members of Inayat Ahmad, who was ‘neutralised’ with a top Jaish commander in Naira village of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district last week, contest police claims.

Meanwhile, a video circulated on social media, quoting purportedly his elder sister, saying three militants came to their home at 10 pm on Thursday and stayed there.

 In a video, she says that Inayat told his sister that he will not come out and would like to die with them [militants], who was holed up in his house. 

While rejecting the family version, she is seen in a video, and said, ” The police persuaded him to come out, but I along with my other sister came out, and he didn’t”. 

The viral video of his elder sister, which rejected family claims of his innocence, was widely shared by Jammu and Kashmir Police on their official Twitter handle. 

Tariq Ahmed, his cousin told Maktoob that he is unable to comment on this video, which was circulated widely on social media. He said that only two sisters and mothers of Inayat were present at the village, where the encounter took place. 

In 2008, Ahmed was arrested by police for Stone-pelting incidents and released three days later. 

“So far as I know he was a labourer, and had bought a flock of sheep for taming, no doubt he was killed now, but at least return his dead body for the final rites. Moreover, his elder brother Naveed Ahmed had also been arrested by government forces, ” he said.

Meanwhile, the Government forces were evacuating the civilians and shifting them to safer places. The elder sister of Inayat said that she got afraid and lied to the Government forces that there is none inside the house, despite having the full knowledge regarding the presence of militants inside their house.

Police version of Pulwama encounter

Addressing a joint press conference at Balapur, Shopian, the General officer Commanding (GOC) of South Kashmir based Victor Force, Lieutenant General Prashant Srivastava said that acting on a specific lead, joint teams of police, army and CRPF laid a siege in Naira village of Pulwama on Saturday evening.

“In the initial assault, three militants were killed and later the presence of another militant was established and he was also killed and identified as Zahid Manzoor Wani, an IED expert and the JeM’s south Kashmir chief,” the GOC Victor Force said he was the mastermind of IED attacks carried out in South Kashmir since 2017 and the main recruiter of local boys into militancy fold.

“His killing is a big success for forces,” he said.

On the occasion, Inspector General of Police Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, said that during the operation, the house owner’s son Inayat Ahmed, was asked to surrender but he along with the militants opened fire at the security forces and got killed. 

“He was a hybrid militant,” the IGP said. He said that the house owner at Naira, Pulwama, in whose house the encounter took place, will be booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, (UAPA). 

Police arrest journalist for “incorrect reporting”

Following the encounter, police summoned two journalists, Editor in chief of The Kashmir Walla Magazine, Fahad Ahmad Shah and prominent Journalist and TV debater Majid Haidari. They have been investigated for their social media posts of the gunfight in Pulwama. 

Later, Fahad Shah was arrested

An FIR (18/2022) under section 307 IPC, 7/25 IA Act and sections 16, 18,20,38 ULA(P) A has been registered in police station Pulwama, a top police officer told GNS, a local news agency. 

The police officer said that the journalists have made “incorrect reporting” regarding the incident.

 “It appears that you are acquainted with the circumstances of FIR and your presence is necessary to give such information as you may possess relating to FIR for the finalization of the investigation and arrest of the accused person,” reads the summon. 

Majid Haidari told the Maktoob Media that he was summoned for having shared a news report done by a local news portal. He had only shared the news and hadn’t even put an opinion on it. 

“I told the investigative cops that we the journalists in the conflict zone are stuck between the devil and deep sea and thus have to give space to such news reports on our social media handles lest we end up being accused of taking sides–something which puts you to a big risk in a place like Kashmir,” he added.