In Video, Father Digs Grave For His Slain Son, Seeks Mortal Remains

by Shakir Ashraf

SRINAGAR: In a video that appeared on social media on Saturday, the father of one of the slain trio of Lawaypora incident has threatened that he will commit suicide if the police turn down his plea to handover the dead-body of his son for the last rites. The emotional video clip has gone viral on social media.

Screengrab of the video in which father of slain was seen digging a grave for his slain son Ather Mushtaq who was killed during Lawaypora encounter.

The slain Athar Mushtaq, a resident of Bellow Pulwama, was one of the three young boys who were killed in an encounter in Lawaypora. The families of the three have rejected the police claims saying “their kin had no militant connection with the militants” and the boys were killed for “personal gains”.

In the video, the slain’s father while digging the grave for his son is seen appealing authorities that he wants to bury his son at his ancestral graveyard. “I request DC Pulwama and SP to help me to get back the mortal remains of my son,” he pleaded while wiping out his tears.

Alleging that his son’s killing was a “cold-blooded murder”, Mushtaq Ahmad alleged his minor son was “branded as militant”. “For the return of my son’s dead-body, I will wait till my last breath,” he said, amid slogans raised by dozens of locals surrounding him at the graveyard.

On Wednesday, December 30, the Army and police had claimed to have killed three militants in an encounter at Lawapora area of Srinagar. The three slain were later identified as Ajaz Ahmed Ganai and Athar Mushtaq Wani of Pulwama and Zubair Ahmed Lone of Shopian. Army said they had tracked the militants on the basis of intelligence inputs, adding that the latter “fired indiscriminately” and even lobbed grenades at the forces.

“For the past many days, intelligence inputs were pouring in continuously about the movement of militants on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway. Yesterday (Tuesday), we developed leads and came to know that militants are hiding in a house right opposite to Noora hospital at Lawaypora in HMT area” said General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the counter-insurgency Kilo Force, H.S. Sahi.

The police in a statement on December 30 had said the operation was launched by 2-RR “on a specific input” and the police joined it later. The statement said the holed up militants refused to surrender and were eventually killed. Recoveries included one AK rifle, two pistols and some ammunition.

“Although the three slain militants in today’s’ encounter were not mentioned in our list of militants, yet two of them are hardcore associates of militants (OGWs). Pertinently, one of the two is relative of top HM commander Rayees Kachroo who was killed in 2017. Reportedly, third might have joined very recently,” the police spokesman said. Responding to the statements made by the families, the spokesman added: “Generally parents don’t have an idea about the activities of their wards. Several OGWs after committing crimes like grenade throwing and pistol shooting etc stay normally with their family. For instance, one student from Pulwama who was taking coaching in Srinagar was caught for lobbying a grenade with the help of CCTV’s footage. His parents were totally unaware of his militant activities.” It promised an investigation.

On December 31, police chief, Dilbagh Singh touches the issue during his press conference in Jammu. “I have no reason to dispute what the GoC Kilo Force (H S Sahi) has stated about the Lawaypora encounter,” Singh said. “The families of two slain youth claimed that their children had gone to submit forms at a University, I want to ask them what were their children doing at encounter site if they had gone to submit a form.” He, however, said the police will still investigate allegations levelled by the families. “It is not important that every militant is listed with the police. When a person leaves his home to join, he doesn’t tell his parents,” he argued when asked about the police statement, made a day earlier.

On January 1, 2021, police issued another statement. “Contrary to the claims, the verified digital evidence revealed and corroborated that Aijaz and Ather had gone to Hyderpora and from there to the place of occurrence only.” The statement said negating that Aijaz had gone to the University to fill his form. “Similarly, Zubair had gone first to Pulwama, then Anantnag, then Shopian to Pulwama and finally came to the place of occurrence.”

The statement said that a background check revealed that Aijaz and Ather were OGWs who provided logistic support to militants. “Antecedents and verifications to show that both were radically inclined and had aided militants of LeT (now so-called TRF) outfit,” it said. “One of OGW presently under police custody has also corroborated Aijaz’s association with LeT militant Faisal Mushtaq Baba who was killed in Meej (Pampore) encounter in June last year. Pertinently, Ather was relative and OGW of HM top commander Rayees Kachroo who got killed in the year 2017.”

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