Hyderpora Encounter: Kashmir On Protest Strike

SRINAGAR: A magisterial enquiry into the controversial Hyderpora encounter and the return of the bodies of two civilians Mohammad Altaf Bhat and Dr Mudasir Gull, notwithstanding, most of Kashmir is observing a strike on the separatist Hurriyat call. Markets are closed and the public transport is off the roads.

A cop checking a two-wheeler in Lal Chowk on November 19, 2021, when the city was on strike sponsored by separatists. KL Image: Hilal Shah

This is perhaps the first strike that Kashmir is observing on the call of Hurriyat. The call despite being ignored by most of the media managed freezing life across Kashmir. However, word of mouth prevailed. In Srinagar roads are deserted, businesses are locked but the private transport is running. The strike is near complete in Srinagar.

Though the Sikh leaders had requested the separatists to change the strike programme as it coincided with a major festival, Guru Purab, it could not happen.

Reports reaching from the Kashmir periphery said the strike is near total in most of south Kashmir including Anantnag, Shopian and Pulwama. Barring Spore, the movement in Kupwara and other areas was is possible.

Hurriyat had called for the Friday shutdown in solidarity with the families of the civilians who were killed in Hyderpora. “The tragedy, which has struck the families of innocent civilians killed in the Hyderpora encounter, is so tormenting that its pain has stunned the people of Kashmir,” a statement by Hurriyat issued to the media on Friday noon said. The focus of the statement was to lend support to the return of the dead bodies.

Jammu and Kashmir administration led by Manoj Sinha had already announced a magisterial enquiry as the pressures mounted from all sides. By later afternoon, it was clear that the bodies are being returned during the dead of the night.

The bodies were exhumed late last night from the Rajwar graveyard and restored to the two Srinagar families. The funerals were hugely restricted and monitored and the burial took place quickly.

This is for the first time since March 2020 when the Jammu and Kashmir administration has returned the body of any person that was buried in isolated, distant graveyards using the ‘law and order’ issues and the hovering Covid19 as the justification. Unlike past when the police would somehow associate a few members of the slain, mostly militants, to be part of the official last rites, in Hyderpora case this had not happened at all.

However, authorities have not returned the body of Amir Ahmad Magrey, a resident of remote Gool village, who was also killed in the controversial Hyderpora encounter. His father, Lateef has been part of the counter-insurgency set up after he killed a militant using stone in 2005. His son was an employee of the slain dentist, Dr Mudasir Gull and was living in the commercial complex that another slain businessman, Mohammad Altaf Bhat, owned. Officials have put restrictions on gathering in Gool belt of Ramban district.

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