A Spate of Killings In Shopian: A Complete Story

by Saima Bhat

SRINAGAR: Individuals behind circulating the recent brutal “execution videos” on social networking sites have been identified and the Kashmir police chief has said on Monday that action will be taken against them.

It apparently happened for the first time that the alleged informers were killed and their videos were also shot while they were being executed. In one of the videos, the voice, says, “The video has been shot to give a lesson to other informers.” On Saturday, a headless body of Huzaif Ashraf, 19, a baker, was found in a pool of blood in Shopain village.

Nawaz Ahmed Wagay, one of the two slain militants killed in Shopian on Sunday November 18, 2018

Kidnappings

Earlier that morning, at 8.30 am, a car arrived near his bakery shop located in Sadipora village of Shopian. Reportedly some unknown men with black bandana tops covering their faces came out of their car and called Huzaif out. “They asked him about his cousin Shahid and asked to call him. He dialled the number of his cousin, Shahid Ahmad Ganie, in whose house he lived from last seven months since he opened the bakery shop. Then he dialled the number of Farooq Ahmad Thoker,” reported The First Post.

The three were taken in the car but later Shahid was left. Soon after, father of Huzaif, Mohammad Ashraf Kutay, 55, a tailor, was called by a policeman and informed that his son has been killed.

As told to The First Post, Shahid has said that the car travelled through several villages for hours. “At one spot they stopped the car and started beating us. I was left at around 4 pm on Saturday. And then Thoker was also let off but not Huzaif.”

The video clip that surfaced on social networking sites late Saturday, as per police was shot in Hermain. The clip shows a masked man with a knife in the right hand and a bloodied, motionless body by his side on the ground. That masked man in the video claims in his non Kashmiri accent that, “All informers will be punished like this.”

Kashmir police chief, SP Pani was quoted as saying: “A Pakistani militant slit the throat of the civilian (Huzaif). He is with Reyaz Naikoo (Hizbul’s Kashmir chief) group. The Hizb even took the responsibility of the killing of other person too.”

In an unverified audio clip, Naikoo is allegedly heard claiming that Huzaif was an informer who worked for the security agencies. “He was involved in the recent killing of two militants,” Naikoo claims.

While as another video of Huzaif, recorded some minutes before his execution, also surfaced on internet where Huzaif accepts that he had called “Army man to tell him some militants have passed by a nearby village.” He also says, “How I was threatened by Army to work as an informer for them. I was told that they will give me money as well that will help be to decrease by debts. I am very poor.” Back at Huzaif’s house, his distraught family could not get courage to see him before burying him.

Another Killing

A day before Huzaif’s killing, on Thursday evening, Nadeem Manzoor, 17, was also killed with a volley of bullets in his body. This incident was also recorded live.

But his father Manzoor Ahmad Bhat had smoother apprehensions when his son was taken along by four armed men. He has said he was “happy” and assumed that they would teach him a “lesson”.

“My son was a drug addict. I thought they were looking for him to give him a warning (for taking drugs), which might force him to stop,” the 50-year-old baker in Shopian district’s Safanagri village told The Indian Express. Bhat also talked on video almost repeating the same thing that his son was smoking Charas.

But Nadeem was killed for being an informer. His body was found in a nearby village in Pulwama district.

“Family members say Nadeem was taking drugs, but now they have more reasons to be ashamed of him – in one of the videos released by the Hizbul Mujahideen, he admitted to informing the Army about the presence of militants in his village on November 6. Two militants were killed in the resultant encounter,” reported the Indian Express. The family, according to the report, has said that if Nadeem really was an informer, then this punishment is less for him. “He deserves a much bigger punishment. But if he was innocent, then it is between God and those who killed my son.”

The report has quoted one of his uncles who said, “We don’t know if he was truthful or he made that statement under any pressure.” While as his brother Sartaj Ahmad Bhat, was quoted saying that Nadeem appeared indifferent to the fact that armed men were looking for him.“I asked him whether he was involved in any controversial thing… I even said he could leave for Jammu till the matter gets sorted out. But he was not scared… He told me that he would go to meet them because he was not involved in anything other than taking drugs,” Sartaj said. “Nadeem was present at home on the night of November 6 (when the encounter took place), watching a movie on his mobile.”

Since Thursday evening, at least eight youth were abducted allegedly by militants, of which two were killed and the others were released.

On Sunday, police officials said one youth, Sheeraz Ahmad, was abducted by unknown gunmen near his home at Memandar, Shopian, on Sunday morning. Later, he was released by the gunmen.

Seeking Numbers

The security apparatus in the entire south Kashmir was earlier taking the I-cards of the people and then summoning them to their camps. Later, they started getting into the memory cards of their mobiles to check if they carry anything subversive. Residents said now they are seeking cell phone number of people are trying to communicate.

The Rebon Encounter

Meanwhile, in an encounter two militants affiliated with al Badr militant group, were killed in a predawn encounter in Reban village of Zainpora, Shopian on Sunday.

Yawar Ahmed, one of the two slain militants killed in Rebbon Shopian on November 18, 2018.

The slain were identified as Nawaz Ahmad Wagay of Reban village and Yawar Ahmad Wani of Bhatnor, Pulwama. One AK-47 rifle and one pistol were recovered from their possession.

The police officials said that based on credible inputs about the presence of militants, a cordon and search operation was launched by the joint forces of police, Army’s Rashtriya Rifles and 178 Battalion, CRPF,  in Reban village. As the search operation was going on, militants opened fire on the forces, triggering an encounter. The encounter started at around 3.30 am and it was over by 5 am. Prior to the encounter the internet services were suspended in the whole area by midnight.

The locals had informed that they heard gunshots at midnight and later came to know that an encounter was going on in the village. Witnesses said that both the slain militants were trapped in the house of Nawaz’s uncle and were killed in its courtyard within some hours. They added that there were no damages to the house except to the glasses of some windowpanes.

Nawaz had joined militancy on June 1, 2018, and according to his family, he was a bright student and he had masters in Urdu subject.

“One day, he came home after offering Friday prayers and put his mobile phone on a windowsill and left. In the evening, he showed up in a photograph on social media wielding an AK-47 rifle,” said a family member.

Nawaz, he said, was aged barely two when his father Ghulam Qadir, a Jamaat-e-Islami activist, was killed by renegades in 1996 in the same village.

Before joining militant group, Nawaz was arrested several times by counter-insurgent forces for having “contact with militants.” He is survived by his mother, three sisters and one brother.

Another slain militant Yawar Wani had joined militancy on August 17 this year. He had also announced his joining through social media. Yawar, 18, son of Ali Mohammed Wani, had filed his missing report soon after he went missing in August.

Both the militants were buried on Sunday late afternoon. Many mourners bid their farewell to Nawaz at Reban where he was laid to rest. At least five rounds of funeral prayers were offered to Nawaz by thousands of people who came from Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag districts. In Bhatnora (Kulgam), thousands of people bid their farewell to Yawar Ahmad.

(The photograph used as featured image has no relevance with the story, the image is for representational purpose only)

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