Families of two civilians killed in the Hyderpora encounter in Srinagar held a protest in Srinagar on Wednesday, demanding justice for the victims and the return of their bodies.
A controversy had erupted over Monday’s encounter in Hyderopra following conflicting claims about the two deceased civilians as their family members contested the police’s charge that they were militant associates.
According to the police, a Pakistani militant and his local associate, Mohammad Amir, along with two civilians — Altaf Bhat and Mudassir Gul — were killed in the encounter, where an illegal call centre and a militant hideout were allegedly being run.
On Wednesday, the families of Bhat and Gul held a protest at Press Enclave in the city, demanding that their bodies be returned to them as they were not militants or OGWs.
Police had said the bodies of all the four killed in the encounter were buried in the Handwara area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
Speaking to reporters, Altaf Bhat’s brother Abdul Majeed said as a ‘numberdar’ (revenue official), he remains in constant touch with the police and they would have informed him if his brother was involved in militancy.
“He (Bhat) was doing business in Hyderpora Bypass for the last 30 years. He rented the building and we had furnished their (tenants) verification in police station Saddar. The police should have contacted us if there was anything (adverse),” he said.
Majeed said his brother was a builder, a taxpayer, and an innocent man.
“You can verify in the whole locality. The police knew him, they used to visit his place every day, have tea with him, they can verify his credentials,” he added.
Majeed said on Monday, the “Task Force” (J-K police’s counter-insurgency unit known as the special operations group) came and took his brother thrice for searches in the building.
“They took him upstairs and brought him down three times. They used drones. (It was) as if they were shooting a movie there. Unfortunately, an innocent Altaf was martyred,” he said.
The family demanded justice and also the return of his body.
“We appeal the LG, request him, that verify and if there is anything (adverse) against my brother, then they can hang me in public in the city center.
“He (Altaf) was innocent, a civilian and not a militant. We want answers, we want justice. We want his body. Why is the government, the terrorists, killing innocent people?” Majeed said.
Mudassir Gul’s wife Humaira Mudassir, while breaking down, said his husband was innocent.
The family also demanded justice and sought the return of their kin’s body.
“We want justice. Give justice to his wife, his mother, and his father. Give justice to his one-year-old daughter Inaya Mudasir,” Humaira said.