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“Tum un Pakistaniyo se poocho jinhone mere bhai ko pakda tha, wahi tumhare sawalo ka jawab denge.”

“Ask these questions to those Pakistanis who held my brother hostage; they will answer your questions,” said 18-year-old Saba Jan, sister of 12-year-old Atif Mir, who was killed after been allegedly held hostage—that too, in his own house—by the trapped militants in 24-hours-long gunfight in North Kashmir’s Hajin today.

Lying in a courtyard next door, gathering the consciousness, Ms. Jan yelled, “What did they do to us? I want my brother back; where is he?”

Hundreds of women were approaching from nearby villages to sympathize with Shareefa Bano, mother of Mr. Mir, the only son among two daughters. A scream made its way through a semi-dark room, habitat by Ms. Bano, via an aged wall: “Your absence is tearing me apart, now where will I find you? Oh! My son.”

The gunfight between the government forces and trapped militants erupted in Mir Mohalla area of Hajin around 11 am yesterday when the forces cordoned the village following the specific inputs.

A prominent human rights activist from Jammu and Kashmir, Khurram Parvez, took to his Twitter handle and wrote, “Atif (12) was killed during the encounter at Hajin when the house in which militants were hiding was destroyed by armed forces. Atif was held hostage by militants. Militants & armed forces are both responsible for this murder. Surely militants are accused of a horrible crime.”

After the gunshots made it from one side to another, as per Ms. Bano, alongside her husband, made multiple requests to the militants via handheld speaker to release their minor son. “I requested them to leave him, but, they did not pay heads to my pleas.”

As she claims, when she tried entering the house, where militants had held Mr. Mir as a hostage, one of the militant, with a gun in his hand, told her in an angry tone, “First your son will die, then us.”

The house of the family was also left to debris, and Mohammad Shafi, 45, father of Mr. Mir standing on it, says that he was at his shop when he came to know about the cordon at his house. He believes that he is unlucky and helpless as he couldn’t save his only son. “Unfortunately, our requests to the militants went into vain,” he said.

As many women mourners were serving drink to the family members of Mr. Mir, his aunt, asking anonymity said, “Militants not only held Atif as hostage, but his uncle as well,” and continue that somehow Haji Mohammad jumped from the window and escaped, “But, he got injuries on his hand.” Currently, Mr. Mohammad is under treatment in the hospital.

Living in a joint family, Mr. Mir’s elder sister, stares at the debris of her house while sitting on the neighboring balcony, said, “They killed an innocent child, were not they humans?”

Amid pro-freedom slogans, thousands attended the final rites of Mr. Mir, with many elders crying over the loss of a young boy. The death of a minor boy under the hostage by militants has raised many questions among the people, including “Why militants held Atif, a 12-year-old boy, as a hostage?”

Additional reporting by Kaiser Andrabi.

Bhat Burhan is a multimedia journalist, and Kaiser Andrabi is a features writer at The Kashmir Walla

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