On Saturday evening, Roohi Jan was in the kitchen preparing tea at her one storey home in Naira village of Pulwama district in south Kashmir when a few men had gathered outside.
“My pregnant sister and I had no idea what was happening outside,” recalled Jan, while waiting on a road outside the Police Control Room in Srinagar on Sunday morning. “Nobody else was in the house.”
Jan recalled that a few men in civilian clothes and his brother [Naveed Mir] entered the house and started searching the rooms. “Initially, they searched the house and left,” she said. “But after three hours they again came inside and told me and my sister to stay in a single room.”
Roohi said that suddenly the firing started.
“We had no idea where the firing was coming from,” said Jan. “We cried for help and were yelling to get us out of the house, but to no avail. At night we managed to shift to a relative’s home.”
Naveed Hussain Mir, 23, Jan’s brother, who was with the government forces during the gunfight, was let go but was again arrested on Sunday morning. She said that Naveed was taken early in the morning from the relative’s home, where the family spent the night. “He was mercilessly beaten before being bundled in a vehicle,” said Jan.
Amid all this Jan’s another brother 17-year-old Inayat Ahmad Mir was missing. Nobody had seen him. Mughli Begum, Inayat’s mother, said that she was aware that her elder son Naveed was with the forces as a part of a search operation but had no idea about Inayat.
In the morning, the police said that three militants and a ‘hybrid militant’ were killed in the gunfight at Jan’s house. Inayat was one among the dead. “It was only in the morning that we [family] came to know that he [Inayat] was killed in the gunfight,” said Begum.
A few hours after the gunfight was over, the Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar told the reporters that the house owner’s son Inayat Ahmed was asked to surrender but he along with militants opened fire at the forces and got killed.
“He was a hybrid militant,” said Kumar. He also added that the house owner, Ghulam Qadir Mir – Inayat’s father, will be booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) – with a punishment of not less than five years.
But Inayat’s family claims that he was innocent. After the gunfight was over, the family – Jan and her parents, drove to the Police Control Room (PCR) in Srinagar to demand Inayat’s body.
As per the family, Inayat was at his maternal home in Trisal village when the cordon took place. “His [Inayat) grandmother expired two days back,” said the father, Mir. “So, all the family along with him were there [maternal home] for the past two days.”
Mir said it was around 4:30 pm on Saturday Inayat went home to feed cattle as there was no male member available to look after the domestic animals.
“Apart from my two daughters – one of them pregnant – there was no one at home,” said Mir. “So, I asked Inayat to go home and feed the animals. That was the last time I saw him. I don’t know how he was killed.”
Mir said that it was after Isha (night) prayers that he received a call from the SP (Superintendent of Police) inquiring about the presence of militants in his house.
“I got a call from my son’s [Naveed] phone,” he said. “When I picked the call it was the SP [Superintendent of Police] inquiring about sheltering militants at my house. I told him [SP] that I’m not home and not aware of any militant presence at my home.”
Addressing a joint press conference at Balapur, Shopian, the General officer Commanding (GoC) of South Kashmir based Victor Force Lieutenant General Prashant Srivastava said that acting on a specific lead, joint teams of police, army and CRPF laid a siege in Naira village on Saturday.
“In the initial assault, three militants were killed and later the presence of another militant was established and he was also killed and identified as Zahid Manzoor Wani, an IED expert and the JeM’s south Kashmir chief,” the GoC Victor Force said.
Wani was the mastermind of IED attacks carried out in South Kashmir since 2017 and the main recruiter of local boys into militancy fold, he added.
At Inayat’s house, neighbours and relatives are pouring in for mourning as the family was at the PCR for the body. Mir also added that he was abducted by the militants back in 1996 for serving the government as he worked with the education department and served during elections too.
“And today, the police are preparing to book me for sheltering militants,” said Mir. “We [Kashmiris] are caught between the two narratives and are getting killed from both sides.”
Next to him, his wife, Begum waiting for any word from the police said, “My son was innocent, he was with me for the past two days at my maternal home. All we want is to get our son’s body. We are not demanding anything else.”