‘Used as human shield’: Family of civilian killed in Srinagar gunfight protest for body

Altaf Bhat
Muhammad Altaf Bhat, civilian killed in Srinagar. Photograph courtesy: Family.

Staging protest at midnight near the Barazulla bridge in Srinagar, the family members of Mohammad Altaf Bhat, who was killed at the gunfight site in Hyderpora area on Monday evening, said that he was “used as a human shield and had no affiliation with any militant group”.

Speaking to The Kashmir Walla over phone, slain’s niece Saima Bhat said that her uncle was a common man and was not involved in any militant activity as claimed by the police.

“My uncle has been murdered. He was used as a human shield in a staged encounter.  He runs a hardware shop and owns the complex where the forces had come for checking,” said Saima.

“There was no gunfight in that complex. He was taken three times as human shield for checking and when they couldn’t find anything, he was killed there,” she added.

She added that the police are denying them the body of her uncle by terming him as an Over Ground Worker (OGW) or “militant associate”.

“We went to the Police Control Room (PCR) but they told us to visit the Saddar police station. But, the officials at Saddar police station denied us the body and asked us to return home,” said Saima. 

“We are currently protesting at the Barazulla bridge. But nobody is paying heed to our cries.”

The Inspector General of Police (Kashmir zone), Vijay Kumar on Monday said that Bhat “in whose building militants were hiding” was injured in a militant firing and later succumbed to his injuries.

Kumar said that as per source and digital evidence, the house owner was working as a militant associate. 

“#SrinagarEncounterUpdate: The house owner who was injured in terrorist fire, succumbed to his injuries. #Terrorists have been hiding on top floor of his building. As per source and digital evidence, he has been working as #terror associate. Search is still going on: IGP Kashmir (sic),” the official Kashmir zone police tweeted.

Earlier, police said that two unidentified militants were killed in a gunfight at Hyderpora area of Srinagar outskirts.

Police said that the gunfight broke out in the evening hours, when joint forces zeroed in on the suspected spot and the hiding militants fired upon them, which was retaliated, triggering a gunfight.

“During the ensuing encounter two unidentified militants were killed, while search operation was going on,” police had said. 

Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, Army’s Srinagar based 15 Corps (Chinar Corps) said that based on J-K police input, a joint operation was launched today evening in Hyderpora.

“Op Hyderpora, #Budgam. Based on @JmuKmrPolice input, a joint op was launched today evening in Hyderpora. Cordon was laid. Terrorists fired on Security Forces which was retaliated. Firefight ensued. Joint op in progress. #Kashmir @adgpi @NorthernComd_IA (sic),” said the Chinar Corps.

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