Srinagar: The families of Altaf Bhat and Mudasir Gul, civilians who were killed on Monday in an encounter between militants and government forces in Hyderpora, protested at Srinagar’s press enclave on Wednesday to assert the innocence of the slain men and demand justice for their “killing in cold blood”.
Both families continued to demand that the bodies be handed over to them for last rites. Abdul Majeed, Altaf’s brother, told reporters that his brother was innocent and had no links with militants.
“We want answers, we want justice. We want his body. Why is the government, the real terrorists, killing innocent people?” Majeed said. He even went to the extent of challenging the state to prove if his brother was linked to any militant activity. He said his brother had furnished his tenants’ verification to the police station and police should have contacted him if there was anything questionable.
“For the last thirty years, he was doing business in Hyderpora. You can verify from the people in the locality. The police used to visit his place every day, have tea with him. They can verify his credentials,” he said.
Altaf, according to his family, was taken by the police’s counter-insurgency unit brother thrice for searches in the building where the encounter took place.
“They used drones. (It was) as if they were shooting a movie there. Unfortunately, an innocent was martyred,” he said.
One of Altaf’s three daughters narrated how the “men who killed my father were unashamedly laughing when I asked them why my father was killed.”
Altaf was in a business associated with construction work and was the owner of the building, which he had rented out, where the militants were killed.
The family of Mudasir Gul also demanded the return of his body, and evidence to prove the claim that he was working with militants.
“I know him more than anybody else. I knew all his business transactions. I know he could not have engaged in anything harmful and sinful. We ask the government to return his body and reveal the truth about my husband,” said Humaira Mudasir, all the while shouting and sobbing. “We want justice. Give justice to his wife, his mother and father. Give justice to his one-year-old daughter Inaya Mudasir, or else the Government of India will be responsible if anything happens to us,” Humaira said.
The father of one the killed militants, Amir Magray, who was working as a help in the office of Mudasir, also refuted the claims of the police. Abdul Latief Magray said he was always an anti-militancy person and had himself once killed a militant with a stone.
“I have myself killed a militant with a stone. I have taken terrorists’ bullets. I have raised my children with great difficulty by keeping them at secret locations. Today, the result of this sacrifice is that an Indian who killed a terrorist with a stone, his son is being killed and branded a terrorist,” said Abdul Magray in a video that has gone viral on social media.
The police said that all the four bodies were buried at an undisclosed location in Handwara police district, more than 100 km from Srinagar.
The police at first said that Altaf Bhat, a businessman, and Dr Mudasir Gul, a doctor-turned-businessman, were fired at by ‘terrorists.’ Police later changed their statement and said that the civilians may have been killed in “crossfire”. Their families believe they were “killed in cold blood.”