‘Return the bodies’: Family of slain youth stages protest

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 1/21/2021 12:05:52 AM

Lawaypora killings

SRINAGAR, Jan 19: The family members of the teenager killed in an alleged gunfight in Lawaypora, Srinagar, on December 30, held a protest today at their native Bellow village in Pulwama district of South Kashmir and demanded the return of the bodies.
Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, the father of the teenager, Ather Wani, led the protest in which people from Bellow took part. He had appealed to the public earlier this week in a video message to assemble at the empty grave of his son at the village.
Ather was one of the three persons killed in the gunfight. While the police maintains they were militants or overground workers, the families have alleged that they were “picked up” and killed.
The families of the two slain youth - Aijaz Maqbool (22) from Pulwama, and Zubair Ahmad (24) from Turkawangam Shopian – have also been demanding that the bodies be handed over to them. Aijaz was pursuing graduation while Zubair was a skilled worker, according to their families.
The protest came a day after Kashmir police chief Vijay Kumar said they would soon show proof that the three slain people killed by security forces in Srinagar on December 30 were involved in militancy.
According to a news agency, Wani said that he canceled the call for a large gathering at the graveyard and instead staged a smaller demonstration in which his family members and neighbours participated. “I thought people might face problems and I didn’t want that,” he said.
As a precautionary measure to avoid any largescale gathering at Bellow, the police and paramilitary personnel had blocked access to the village and had placed armoured vehicles on the roads leading to it. Some media personnel were also not allowed to cover the protest.
Wani appealed to the authorities to return the body of his son in a week’s time. “Otherwise I will stage a sit-in protest in Lal Chowk and won’t stop even if they kill me,” he said.
The teenaged boy’s family also rebuffed the IGP’s claims. “Twenty-two days have gone by and they are saying 60% documents are ready. This is a ‘fake’ (claim) and is being done for the public (image). Today this happened with us, tomorrow this fire will engulf the whole of Kashmir,” he said, according to a report in Hindustan Times.
Athar, Aijaz and Zubair are buried at Sonamarg in north Kashmir as authorities had refused to hand over their bodies.
The families demanded that the bodies be returned to them for burial at their respective places. Since Covid-19 pandemic, the authorities have been burying the bodies of militants, allowing only a few family members to be part of the burial. Bodies of the trio killed on December 30 were taken to Ganderbal, some 110 km from Pulwama, for burial.



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