SRINAGAR: Families of two civilians, Mohammad Altaf Bhat and dentist Mudasir Gul, who were killed in an encounter at Hyderpora on November 15, are on a sit-in protest since morning. They are still at Partap Park and are waiting for the assurances that the bodies of their members will be returned for a decent burial.
The two families – one each from Barzulla and Rawalpora, reached the Press Enclave early Wednesday morning and sat on a protest. Apart from offering details of the encounter, they had collected; they said their only demand is that bodies of their kins be restored to them for decent burial in their respective graveyards.
In this cold wintery night instead of mourning their dead, the families are on a sit in at Press enclave demanding the least : only the dead bodies of their loved ones. The expectations are least . @HMOIndia @manojsinha_ pic.twitter.com/nwo8mgernc
— J&K PDP (@jkpdp) November 17, 2021
“Unfortunately, I am the Lumberdar of my area and the police is always in touch with me,” Abdul Majeed Bhat, elder brother of slain shopping complex owner, Mohammad Altaf said. “Never ever did they give me an inkling about anything? They knew us all and they also knew that we have been verifying the antecedents of the people whom we rent our premises.”
Hyderpora killing appears to be a crime most foul . It warrants an impartial and thorough probe .What is at stake is not merely the life of an individual who is gone leaving behind a mourning family and friends.
— Muzaffar Hussain Baig (@Muzaffar__Baig) November 16, 2021
Bhat said that they had closed the premises after the incident and the police had come later and broken in. “We do not know what they did,” he said.
The family had met the civil administration and the police. They said the officials regretted the killing and admitted Bhat’s innocence but were not ready to return the body. Dentist Mudasir Gul’s family has also met the concerned officials in police and civil administration.
In the midst of conflicting claims in the Hyderpora encounter the least we deserve is a transparent description of what happened by a neutral institution. This is neither the first time nor the last time. @manojsinha_ U have the opportunity to assert that human lives matter.
— Sajad Lone (@sajadlone) November 16, 2021
Gul, a trained dentist, was running a real estate firm that was also building new houses. Humaira, his wife almost collapsed in the protest while seeking proof from police that Gul was an OGW. “If they show us any evidence that he was a militant, I will offer myself for the punishment,” Humaira said. “He was innocent. Let them offer a bit of evidence to justify their allegation.”
Party President Dr Farooq Abdullah has spoken to LG Manoj Sinha and reiterated his demand for an impartial probe into the civilian killings. He also sought LGs intervention in handing over bodies to their kin. LG has assured to look into the demands of victim families.
— JKNC (@JKNC_) November 17, 2021
Kashmir Police Chief, Vijay Kumar told the media on Tuesday that a Pakistani militant and his local associate Mohammad Amir, along with two civilians — Altaf Bhat and Mudassir Gul — were killed in the encounter. He said they are investigating an “unauthorised call centre” and a militant hideout that was running from the premises. Police buried all the four dead bodies in Rajwar belt of Handwara and no family member was even told to be part of the last rites.
The controversial encounter has come under sharp criticism from all sides and from all political parties. The only exception is the BJP. General demand from all sides is a time-bound judicial investigation.
Along with @ImranNDar & other @YNC_Kashmir colleagues @abidwani_ @IrfanZehgeer #sheikhOvais #HananQazi & others Joined families of Mohammad Altaf & Dr Mudasar at press enclave during sit-in candle light protest
Expressed solidarity on behalf of entire @JKNC_ family. pic.twitter.com/HHtEpBOKpq
— Salman Sagar (@salmanalisagar) November 17, 2021
The two families are sitting on protest in Partap Park and continued till late in the evening. Around evening, they were joined by NC’s Salman Sagar and many others. The two families did a candlelight protest as well. During the day, there were rumours that some politicians might be joining the protest but it did not happen.
To vilify them as militants or OGWs is bad enough but to take the bodies away & forcibly bury them in North Kashmir is a crime against humanity. The bodies must be returned to the families so they can be buried. It’s the only just thing & it’s the only humanitarian thing to do.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) November 17, 2021
“On her return from Jammu PDP President @MehboobaMufti was on way to press colony to console with the family & participate in the protest, but police blocked the route & did not allow her to move towards protest site. Is demanding the dead body of civilians a crime now?” PDP tweeted.
The families said their protest has the sole motive of getting back the bodies for a decent burial. They said they would stay put till they get assurance from the gubernatorial regime. As this report is being filed, they are shivering in cold but staying on protest.
We demand judicial probe into the civilian killings of Hyderpora and urge the administration to immediately handover their bodies to respective families for last rites. pic.twitter.com/zgjl88uKR0
— M Y Tarigami (@tarigami) November 16, 2021
In Jammu, reports said, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti held a symbolic protest against the alleged killing of civilians.
“I am protesting because this government kills civilians in the name of militancy. Nobody knows if militants are being killed. Three civilians have been killed recently. The government refuses to hand over their dead bodies to the families despite the latter’s demand,” Mufti was quoted as having told the media outside her office.