Srinagar: Authorities on Thursday exhumed bodies of Mohammad Altaf Bhat and Mudasir Gul, two civilians killed in the Hyderpora encounter, for handing them over to their families, officials said.
The bodies were exhumed after sundown under the supervision of Tehsildar Handwara in presence of a team of doctors and are likely to be handed over to their families later in the night, they said.
This will be for the first time that the body of a person buried under police watch is returned to his kin since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year.
The bodies were handed over to their families after midnight.
According to sources, the families have been asked to limit the funeral to only a few people. Also restrictions have been imposed in the area to prevent “law and order” problem.
Earlier in the day, the families of the slain men welcomed the probe but reiterated that the bodies of their kin must be handed over to them for proper burial.
“At this point of time our utmost priority is to get back our uncle’s body for a dignified burial,” Saima Bhat, niece of deceased Altaf Ahmed Bhat told Kashmir Observer.
“I can’t say anything else as it is a crucial time for our family,” she added.
Pertinently, a controversy has erupted over Monday’s encounter in Hyderpora as the families of three of the slain men have accused government forces of killing them in a “fake encounter”. The three families disputed police claims stating that —Muhammad Altaf Bhat, Dr Mudassir Gul and Aamir Magray—were innocent civilians and had been killed in “cold-blood”
On Tuesday, the families protested against the killings of their kin and reiterated their demands for ‘Justice’ and “return their bodies”.
“How will this probe calm our family? We know that our uncle was innocent even though the police have acknowledged this but we’re still being denied our right to bury our uncle properly. If the administration calls for a probe that means our uncle was innocent, then why shouldn’t we get to see his dead body,” said Sameer Bhat, nephew of Altaf.
Talking to Kashmir Observer, a relative of Dr Mudasir Gul, who wished anonymity, said that “such magisterial probes aren’t of any help to families.”
“Since the 90s more than 400 magisterial probes have been ordered but how many provided justice. This probe is a welcome step for us but our first demand is for our kin’s body nothing else matters,” he said.
He further said “Since the first day, we have been reiterating that the government should provide us with bodies but no one’s listening. If police are themselves claiming that two were civilians then what’s wrong in returning back their bodies. Our brother Mudasir was a family man then why is his body a danger to law and order,” he added.
Notably, in 2014, the Supreme Court of India in a Public Interest Litigation passed a judgement and expressed grave concerns over deaths in police encounters and ruled that registration of first information reports or FIRs will be mandatory in all such cases along with an independent probe and a magisterial inquiry so as to deter policemen from taking law into their own hands. (With agency inputs)
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