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‘We demand judicial inquiry so that facts surface, justice served’

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As Special Investigation Team headed by DIG Central Kashmir finally announced its verdict on Hyderpora killing, the families of the slain civilians are rooting for judicial probe.

A haze of helplessness brought the chilling winter quite early on the hills of Gool, Ramban this year.

The haven looks lost as the “fun-loving boy” whose laughter would echo in the meadows is still being mourned by all and sundry in his tribe.

Amid the pervasive melancholy, an uneasy silence has come to dominate the landscape specked with shanties and shelters.

One of them houses the grieving family of Amir Magrey.

His inconsolable sister Mehmoona Begum was anticipating “change of heart” in state apparatus while cooling her heels on the misty porch of her home.

But the Special Investigation Team (SIT) findings have only dashed her hopes.

On December 28, three days before the New Year, the SIT probing Hyderpora shootout case declared Amir as militant.

“But how can we believe in the police version?” Mehmoona told Free Press Kashmir.

“My brother was not a militant. He was killed in cold-blood. We want a fair probe and also our brother’s dead body.”

Amir’s dead body wasn’t given to his family despite his father having served Indian forces in Kashmir during peak militancy in nineties. He made no bones about stoning a militant to death.

“But Amir’s killing has broken his back,” Mehmoona narrated with a glum face.

“I’ve never seen my father like this. He’s someone who always helped the Indian cause in Kashmir. And yet, his son was snatched from him in the name of militancy he fought all his life.”

Mehmoona showing photograph of her brother buried 300 kilometers away from home. [FPK Photo/Vikar Syed]

 

The SIT might’ve announced its closure in the case, but what happened at Hyderpora on November 15 is still a “probe in progress” for the families.

Police had claimed four kills in the sundown operation and all of them were initially labeled as militants or militant associates.

But as soon as scribe niece of the slain landlord put out a midnight tweet, the plot thickened. Police primarily came out with contradicting statements before constituting SIT in a curt presser.

In days to come, as the families of building owner Altaf Bhat and his tenant Dr. Mudasir Gul would hit the road, the police handed over their bodies.

Sensing the gravity of the matter, Raj Bhavan broke its silence and ordered magisterial enquiry by an officer of Additional Deputy Magistrate’s rank.

“We’ve been seeing and reading about the inquiries that were initiated in the past in many such incidents where civilians were targeted and killed and later labelled as militants,” Saima Bhat, Altaf Bhat’s niece, told FPK.

“Those inquiries have not led to any satisfactory conclusions. But we have a little hope in our case because LG has intervened and said there will be no injustice.”

Girl child, cousin of Amir Magray, visiting the place where Amir’s family lives in a village Thatharka, Seirpora of Ramban district. [FPK Photo/Vikar Syed]

 

Sharing the findings, the SIT-incharge, DIG Sujit K Singh said that Saima’s uncle, Alfaf Dar was used as human shield by foreign militant and was killed in crossfire. The officer said that Bhat’s tenant, Dr. Gul had “ferried a foreign militant” who had taken shelter in his office chamber.

“We demand judicial inquiry so that facts surface and justice will be served,” Ghulam Muhammad Rather, Dr. Gul’s father, told FPK days before the SIT verdict.

Even as the magisterial enquiry is still pending in the case, Mehmoona fears that “it won’t be a fair probe” as “magistrate does not have powers” to investigate the matter in which high level officers are involved.

“We demand that a retired judge should investigate the matter and bring out the facts,” she said.

 

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