Srinagar: Families of two civilians killed in the Hyderpora shootout held a protest here on Wednesday, demanding justice for the victims and the return of their bodies.
Monday’s shootout in Srinagar’s Hyderpora area is mired in a controversy following conflicting claims about the two deceased men as their family members contested the police charge that they were “militant associates”.
The families of the property owner Muhammad Altaf Bhat and his tenant Dr Mudasir Gul held a protest at the Mushtaq Press Enclave in the city, demanding that their bodies be returned to them for final rites.
Police after declaring the two as militant associates had hurriedly buried them in the North Kashmir town of Handwara, some 80 kilometers from Srinagar.
However, for the second day running on Wednesday families of the two slain men picketed at Press Enclave here insisting that their men were innocent with no links to militancy and that they were killed “in cold blood” by the government forces.
Watch News In Pictures: ‘For The Sake of This Child, Return Us Bodies’
Speaking to reporters, Altaf’s brother Abdul Majeed said “as a ‘numberdar’ (revenue official), he remains in constant touch with the police and they would have informed him if his brother was involved in militancy.”
“He (Altaf) was doing business on Hyderpora Bypass for the last 30 years. He rented the building and we had furnished their (tenants) verification in the police station Saddar. The police should have contacted us if there was anything (adverse),” he said.
Majeed said his brother was a builder, a taxpayer and an innocent man.
“You can verify in the whole locality. The police knew him, they used to visit his place every day, have tea with him, they could verify his credentials,” he added.
Majeed said on Monday, the counter-insurgency unit of J&K police’s Special Operations Group came and took his brother thrice for searches in the building.
“They took him upstairs and brought him down three times. They used drones. (It was) as if they were shooting a movie there. Unfortunately, an innocent Altaf was martyred,” he said.
The family demanded justice and also the return of his body.
“We appeal to the LG, request him to verify and if there is anything (adverse) against my brother, then they can hang me in public in the city centre.”
“He (Altaf) was innocent, a civilian and not a militant. We want answers, we want justice. We want his body. Why is the government, the terrorists, killing innocent people?” Majeed said.
At the protest Humaira Mudassir widow of Dr Mudassir Gul, broke down while reiterating that her husband was innocent.
The family also demanded justice and sought the return of their kin’s body. “We want justice. Give justice to his wife, his mother and father. Give justice to his one-year-old daughter Inaya Mudasir,” Humaira said.
Inaya, she said, “has been crying since yesterday looking for her father. She cries baba, baba, and I have no answers to her. I urge LG Manoj Sinha to allow my daughter to see her father for the last time.”
According to the police, four persons were killed in the shootout, among whom Altaf and Mudasir were admitted by the police to be civilians. They also claimed Mudasir was running an illegal call centre that doubled as a “militant hideout.”
A third person was identified as Mudasir’s employee and Banihal resident Amir Ahmad, who the police claimed was an “associate” of foreign militant Haider, also killed in the shootout. Amir’s father, himself a protected person for fear of militants, too has raised questions about the police claim.
All four were buried by the police in north Kashmir’s Handwara in the Kupwara district.
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