SRINAGAR: The north Kashmir Baramulla town wore a gloomy look as it lost three young men to a mysterious last night shooting. It observed a complete strike that Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) had announced in wake of the overall incidents across Kashmir on Monday.

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People carry bodies of three civilians during the funeral procession in Baramulla, on May 1, 2018.
Kl Image by Bilal Bahadur

It was in the forenoon that a few hundred people reached Kakar Hamam and offered a joint funeral to the three young men: Haseeb Khan, Asgar Sheikh and Asif Ahmad Sheikh. They were laid to rest locally. It was a painful sight when the local gathering took the three coffins to the local graveyard.

Though the entire belt was tense, the tensions in the three families were visible as mourning’s were taking place. Residents bee-lined the three homes to offer their condolences.

Police said the three men were in Kakar Hamam outside a shop when at least three militants came and quickly shot them dead. Neither of them was breathing when the police reached the spot and it took its own time for the police to evacuate the bodies to the local hospital for the mandatory autopsy.

A lady consoling father of one of the civilians in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
Kl Image by Bilal Bahadur

“I am sure, the killers were militants and they were locals,” SSP Baramulla, Imtiaz Hussain said. “We have started investigations and we have already detained some people on suspicion and investigations are in the process,” Hussain said Baramulla has three militants right now and all the three have come down from to plains of Baramulla in last few days. “We disrupted their stay in Tangmarg belt because we busted certain hide-outs.”

The three men who were mowed down had one thing in common: they had no assured source of income, had modest backgrounds. All the three were earning their livelihood from the street where they would sell small items on a cart. “That is how the poor people get exploited in this situation,” Hussain said.

Haseeb Khan was one of them. A young man, who dropped out after he failed to manage his twelfth class examination, Haseeb was in jail under Public Safety Act. Police said he spent almost nine months in jail but was booked under NDPS act. They also said he would resort to stone pelting, sometimes. A resident of Kakkar Hamam, Haseeb was the only son of his parents.

Relatives of Mohammad Asgar, one among three civilians killed, wailing during his funeral possession.
Kl Image by Bilal Bahadur

Asif was another guy. A resident of Syed Karim, Asif was the son of an MES employee, Ali Mohammad. Asif did not study beyond seventh class.  He is survived by his parents, a brother and a sister. His sister is married and settled.

Asgar, the third of the slain trio, was a resident of Kakkar Hamam. Almost of 28 years of age, he had two kids, both minors. Tragically, reports suggest, he was separated from his wife too. Police said Asgar was also arrested earlier, once.

Police sources said while they are investigating the case, they are sure of one thing: “They were from underprivileged classes and were seemingly exploited.”

Haseeb’s Grandmother, wailing during his funeral possession.KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

The major worry for the police is that the three killings have broken silence on killings that was there since 2008. “The last killing was when two local militants Tanveer and Imtiaz killed Jan Mohammad Kakroo,” a senior police officer said. “There were killing by the government forces but not a killing by the militants.”

Baramulla’s return to militancy took place in September 2017, when Javed Ahmad Dar was killed. When he was alive he attacked a PDP man who survived and carried out two attacks on the police station as well. “It was in the reaction to his killing that four of his friends picked up arms,” one police officer said. “One of them was killed in Sopore but three are alive and are in and around town.” One of them, the officer said, had travelled to Pakistan on a valid passport. “When we visited his home to ask him certain things, he fled and joined militancy,” the officer said.

It is this militant module that SSP Baramulla Imtiaz Hussain says is behind the three killings.

The killings were widely condemned. While the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah immediately condemned the killings, Hurriyat Conference, Joint Resistance Leadership and Hizb ul-Mujahideen also condemned.

The Chief Minister said she is pained to see young boys getting killed in an unending cycle of violence which she reiterated that it must be brought to an end. She extended sympathies to the bereaved families.

Congress Party strongly condemns innocent killings, in any form and believes that the loss of lives will further deepen the alienation among the people and urged that bloodshed must end in the valley.

Congress Legislators MLC Ghulam Nabi Monga, MLA Haji Abdul Rashid and MLA Usman Majeed while condemning Baramulla killings, expressed serious anguish over the unabated bloodshed in the valley, slamming both State and Centre Government for failing to ensure the safety of innocent people, the statement said.

Strongly condemning the killing of a youth in security forces firing in Pulwama area of south Kashmir and killing of three more youth at the hands of ‘unidentified gunmen’ in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, State Secretary CPI(M) asked how long the blood of civilians will continue to flow in Kashmir?

“The reckless killing of civilians at the hands of both the parties involved in the conflict continues unabated,” the statement said. “Condemnation and ordering a probe after every killing is not a solution to the problem, but time has come when political leadership rising above the ideological difference should come together to stop these killings.”

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen has also condemned the killings. Local news gathering agency, CNS quoted Hizb’s operational spokesman, Burhanuddin saying: “It is India who is killing Kashmiris”. He has asked people “to help them in identifying those who were behind such acts.”

JRL also expressed concern and condemnation over the killing of three youth from old town Baramulla. JRL said that time and again people are killed in such a manner and no one knows who kills them as the killers remain unidentified gunmen. While the state authorities conveniently blame armed youth the militant organisation, in fact, condemn the killings and many time blame state agencies. In the process, the culprits never get identified. JRL said it is a matter of serious concern and needs to be investigated appealing the UN to take note of this and set up an impartial inquiry into these killings.

JRL reiterated that any killing on grounds of political or party affiliations is inhuman and un-Islamic and unacceptable to people and leadership of Kashmir.


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