Wudder Payeen (Handwara): Among the four bodies from the alleged gunfight in Hyderpora area of Srinagar, the body of Mudasir Gul had reached separately in another vehicle an hour late, said the eyewitnesses at the graveyard, who attended the funeral.
On 15 November 2021, at around 6:29pm, the police said that a gunfight had started in Hyderpora. Six minutes later, tweeting from its official handle, the police said that “one unidentified” militant was killed and the operation was on. Over two hours later, at 8:25pm, the police said a second militant was killed and the operation was still on.
No one among the two killed were identified until 10:44pm, when the Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar said that the house owner – Mohammad Altaf Bhat, was “injured in terrorist fire, succumbed to his injuries.”
Altaf was the third person dead, as per the police, and was declared “terror associate” based on digital evidence. The IGP said that “terrorists have been hiding on top floor of his building. As per source and digital evidence, he has been working as terror associate.”
Around the same time, local residents in Wudder Payeen – a remote village of north Kashmir’s Handwara, received a call from the police that three bodies will be brought for burial in the graveyard.
“We were informed around 10:30-11pm about three bodies,” a local resident told The Kashmir Walla. “We began to do the preparations for the graves.”
But two hours later, the locals received another call that there would be four bodies, not just three. “We had to bury four people, so it was a lot of work. We found more people in the village for help,” said the local, who wished not to be identified.
The first three bodies to arrive in the village were of – Amir Lateef Magray, a resident of Ramban who was working with Gul, an unidentified person, and Mohammad Altaf Bhat, a businessman from Srinagar’s Barzulla area. Gul was running a business in the building.
The Kashmir Walla showed photographs of four bodies to the local residents, who carried out the burial and last rites, to confirm their identities.
Three bodies – of Bhat, Magray and an unidentified person, were brought to the village at 3am in a police vehicle. “An hour later, Gul’s body was brought in a separate police vehicle at around 4am. All four bodies were buried together in four separate graves by 6am,” said the eyewitnesses.
The eyewitnesses said that they were awake all night waiting for the graves amid the cold, with only a dozen local residents at the graveyard. The police also told them not to click any photographs or videos during the funeral. However, officials shot video of the funeral prayers and the burial, eyewitnesses said.
While the residents of Wudder Payeen were burying the bodies, the families of Bhat and Gul were protesting and demanding the return of the bodies, accusing the government forces of killing civilians.
A day later on 16 November 2021, a police statement declared Bhat as civilian and dropped him from being “terror associate”. However, the police continue to say that Gul and Magray were militant associates of the unidentified militant, who was killed.
Slain Mudasir’s wife, Humaira who among other family members staged a protest at press enclave Srinagar demanding the return of his body stated that her husband was killed in a “cold blood” and was known to many police officials in the area.
As the backlash over the killings continues, the government has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident.
Two days later, two bodies – of Bhat and Gul, were exhumed from the Handwara graveyard and returned to their families. They were buried past midnight on Thursday in their ancestral graveyards in Srinagar.
Additional reporting by Junaid Kathju