Sixteen-years ago Muhammad Lateef Magray killed a militant and received a bravery award for it but today he is pleading that his son – Amir Ahmad Magray, 22, was not a militant as claimed by the police after killing him in a gunfight in Hyderpora area of Srinagar on Monday.
The Jammu and Kashmir police claimed that Amir was a “hybrid militant” and was killed along with three others during a gunfight. But the family of three – Amir, Muhammad Altaf Bhat and Mudasir Gul, who were killed too, have rejected the police claims. The families have said that the trio were innocent civilians and had nothing to do with militancy.
A resident of Gool tehsil in Ramban district, Magray, an employee with Public Engineering Department, said that they are “staunch Indians” and have fought against the militancy.
Speaking to The Kashmir Walla over phone, Jan Magray, nephew of Amir, said that he was Hafiz and had done Islamic course in Bandipora district.
“He later went to Deoband to complete the Qari course. But due to the Covid lockdown returned home,” said Jan, adding that after spending a year or so at home in Ramban, Amir decided to return to Srinagar to teach the Quran to children in any Madrasa.
“But he couldn’t get a job, so to take care of his expenses, he started working as a salesman in a shop at Hyderpora,” said Jan.
The family had come to know about Amir’s killing around 9:30 am on Tuesday. “We immediately rushed to Srinagar and visited the PCR in Batamaloo. The officials there told us to visit Saddar police station,” he said.
“At Saddar police station, the concerned SHO told us that Amir was a militant and has already been buried in Handwara.”
“How come Amir is a militant? His father was awarded for his bravery for killing militants,” asked Jan.
In a video, Mohammad Lateef Magray, the father, said that his son was working as a labourer in Srinagar and he came to know about the killing of his son on Tuesday morning.
“When I woke up in the morning, I heard that my son was killed. Then, I along with the Sarpanch came to Srinagar today, but the police told me that my son was a militant,” Magray said.
“I have myself killed militants and have taken bullets,” said Magray. “We are migrants, and now today, we are being labelled as militants. Where is the justice? What will we do in India now? We were staunch Indians. I urge Governor Sahib to allow the return of my son’s body, so that we can perform his last rites.”
According to the official police handout, on a specific input regarding presence of militants in an illegal call centre rented for business in a private building in Hyderpora area of Srinagar, a joint cordon and search operation was launched by Police, 2RR and CRPF in the said area.
The police said that in order to show the suspect call centre in the building, owner of the building namely Altaf Ahmad as well as the tenant namely Mudasir Ahmad were also called to accompany the search party. As the search party approached a room on the top floor of the building, the hiding militants started firing indiscriminately towards the party which retaliated.
The killed militants, according to the police, have been identified as “Haider @Bilal Bhai (a foreign Pakistani terrorist) and his associate Amir Ahmad resident of Banihal (a hybrid terrorist) who was working earlier as an OGW of LeT Commander.” The police have also accused that Mudasir was an associate of militants while Altaf died during the gunfight.
“However, in the initial exchange of fire, both the individuals (Altaf and Mudasir) accompanying the search party received critical gunshot injuries and succumbed to their injuries. In the ensuing encounter, both the militants hiding in the room were eliminated and their bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter,” the police said.
Police said that keeping in view the law and order scenario, all the bodies have been sent to Handwara for burial purposes after completion of all medico-legal formalities.
However, The Kashmir Walla while speaking with the eyewitnesses on the spot, one among the relatives of Bhat, said that he saw Amir, who was a helper to Mudasir coming down from the building when troops cordoned the area.
“We saw the troops parking their vehicles outside the building. As they were approaching towards the building, Amir who was a helper to Mudasir was coming down from the building and was immediately frisked.”
Another eyewitness, a shopkeeper in the vicinity, said that Amir was also asked to hand over the phone but he was not carrying it with him.
“I heard him [Aamir] telling the troops that his phone is not with him,” said the eyewitness. After frisking Amir, the eyewitnesses saw him walking to wards the nearby hospital.
Eyewitnesses said that before Mudasir was taken along, the troops also asked him to call Aamir back to the office.
“Before taking Mudasir along, an officer asked Mudasir to recall Amir to the office. But we don’t know how he [Aamir] was killed,” they said.
Amir’s family said that his family was under police protection for the past 15 years in Banihal.
“How come the police were guarding his house for 15 years without knowing that he [Amir] was a militant. Why do police provide security to the father of a militant? Didn’t they know that he [Amir] was a militant,” the relatives said.
The family said that they would protest at the Ramban if Amir’s body was not returned.
“One of our kids has died. Many more will die tomorrow. It doesn’t matter. But we want justice,” the family members said.
The police said that they have registered a case under relevant sections of law and further investigation from all the angles have been initiated.