Athar’s father digs his grave, says ‘I’m going to ask for my son’s dead-body for the last time’

Pulwama: Amid claims made by families of three youth killed by a joint team of armed forces in a military operation in Lawaypora area of Srinagar that “they were civilians and not militants”, father of one of the slain Athar Mushtaq from Bello village of Pulwama district, said that he has dug the grave for his slain son and appealed the police authorities to return his son’s body.

He also threatened that he will visit the Police Control Room Srinagar for last time and if they did not provide the mortal remains of his son, and that he will ‘kill himself’ in front of them.

The slain’s father while digging the grave at his ancestral grave yard in Bello, made the appeal, alleging that his son was killed in a ‘cold blooded murder’.

He said that Athar was a minor and branded as militant by the armed forces for their “personal gains”.

“For my son’s dead-body that police has possession of, I will wait till my last breath,” he said, adding his family is in pain that they cannot express by words.

Pertinently, 0n December 30, 2020, families of three “militants killed in a military operation” by a joint team of police, CRPF and Army at Lawaypora in city outskirts of Srinagar staged a protest, asserting that they were “innocent civilians”.

“Yesterday at 10 am, he had tea with me and I swear about it. I don’t know where he was brought down from Sumo. Is this what is going to happen in Kashmir. Is this democracy? Is this the governor Raj? Kill me. Why did you kill him. He was a student,” said Bashir Ahmad Ganie, grandfather of Aijaz Maqbool, one of the slain.

“Why was he killed? Was he a terrorist?” he asked, adding, “(Aijaz) is the son of a policeman Mohammad Maqbool Ganie who is posted in Ganderbal,” the elderly man told reporters outside PCR in Srinagar.

“Tell us why our son was killed. If they don’t, let them send task force and kill us all at home,” the elderly man said.

Besides, Aijaz Mushtaq from Putrigam Pulwama, families of two others—Ather Mushtaq Wani, son of Mushtaq Ahmad Wani from Bellow Pulwama and Zubair Ahmad Lone (carpenter) from Turkewagan Shopain—also protested and claimed they are innocents.

In this regard, the police had said, that “three unidentified militants have been killed while the house where militants were hiding suffered partial damage.”

The General officer Commanding (GoC) Kilo Force H S Sahi has said that three militants killed in Lawaypora on Srinagar outskirts were planning a big strike on the highway to gain publicity.

Addressing a joint press conference at 2 RR headquarters at Zainakote, HMT, Srinagar, GoC Kilo Force said that “since past many days, intelligence inputs were pouring in continuously about the movement of militants on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway”.

“Yesterday, we developed leads and came to know that militants are hiding in a house right opposite to Noora hospital at Lawaypora in HMT area,” Sahi said.

“The militants fired indiscriminately at security forces and lobbed grenades as well. The operation was put on a halt due to dark but cordon layers were tightened. With the first light, the firefight again resumed and militant used heavy ammunition against security forces,” the GoC said, adding that in the ensuing gunfight three militants were killed.

In the second statement issued yesterday, police said that three “militants” were killed in a gunfight in Lawaypora area and none of them was on its “list of militants, yet two of them were hardcore associates (OGWs) of militants while third one might have joined very recently.”

The police has said that “repeated announcements were made to the hiding militants to lay down their illegal weapons and surrender but instead, they fired continuously upon the searching party”.

“Due to darkness, the operation was suspended. However the cordon remained intact throughout the night,” the spokesman said.

The statement added: “Some families from South Kashmir came to PCR and claimed them to be their wards. They were sent to Ganderbal for further identification and participation in last rites in the presence of Magistrate.”

In the third statement issued by police on January 1, 2021, after claims by the families of slain trio claiming they were not linked with militancy, police said that “technical verification of the slain trio has revealed that two among the three slain were “radically inclined and were OGWs of Lashkar-e-Taiba outfit now TRF”.

The police spokesman said that “background check also reveals that Aijaz and Ather Mustaq, both OGWs variously provided logistic support to militants. Antecedents and verifications too show that both were radically inclined and had aided of LeT (now so-called TRF) outfit, militants,” the statement said.

It said that one of OGW presently under police custody has also corroborated Aijaz’s association with LeT militant Faisal Mustaq Baba who was killed in Meej (Pampore) military operation in June last year.

Pertinently, Ather was relative and OGW of HM commander Rayees Kachroo who got killed in the year 2017.

“Nevertheless police is investigating into the case from all possible angles,” the statement added. (FPK)

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