Bandipora: The headless body of a youth who was known to be a pro-freedom agitator was recovered from near the river Jhelum in Mandi area of Hajin in Bandipora district on Sunday morning. The Lashkar-e-Toiba issued a statement blaming “Indian forces” for the gruesome killing, while the family said that Muzaffar had been severely tortured in police custody before he was released a month ago.
The head of 24-year-old Muzaffar Ahmad Parray, a butcher by profession, is yet to be found. His body was found with both hands tied with a rope behind the torso. Videos and pictures of the headless body went viral on social media and the slain youth’s cousin, Ramiz Ahmad, identified the body by the clothes it wore. “They were my clothes. I had given them to Muzaffar when he was in jail last Eid. He had asked me to send some clothes,” Ramiz said.
Muzaffar had returned home a month ago, after spending nearly three months in police detention on charges of stone-pelting and leading protest rallies. Police say that he was killed by “unknown” suspects and he was not involved in any militancy-related activity.
A few days before his release, Muzaffar was severely tortured in Sumbal police station, his family and relatives alleged.
“He was called to Sumbal police station from Hajin, two days prior to his release. He was severely tortured there,” said Meharaj-ud-Din Parray, his uncle, who lives in the same house as Muzaffar’s family.
“When we were called to Sumbal police station to take Muzaffar home, we saw him there in an almost dead condition. We immediately took him to a hospital, from where he was referred to SKIMS Soura. He remained admitted there for two days,” Parray said.
Another relative said, “It would be premature to put the blame on anybody. Only time will tell who killed him. Muzaffar’s parents are not in a condition to talk to anybody.”
On Thursday night, Muzaffar had his dinner at his cousin Ramiz’s house, which is only a few paces from his home. “After he had dinner, he left, as Isha prayers were approaching,” Ramiz said.
“He was a man who struggled for the cause of freedom, but after his release from detention he would often talk of joining militant ranks,” Ramiz said.
“After his release from police custody, for twenty days he was bedridden, recovering from the torture he had faced in custody. Only ten days had passed since he was back on his feet,” Hilal Ahmad, a cousin of Muzaffar, said.
“Muzaffar told us that the police officer at Sumbal beat him almost to death. He broke his fingers and kicked him unconscious,” Parray, his uncle, said.
“The night that Muzaffar went missing, government forces had cordoned off the village,” Parray said.
“We inquired about Muzaffar, but he was nowhere to be found. No one knew where he was until Sunday morning, when locals brought the news that they had found a headless body near the river bank,” Parray said.
“We didn’t file a missing report with police as we were certain that he may have joined militant ranks. We were waiting for news about his joining,” Ramiz said.
Parray said, “Ours is a family of 30, who live under one roof. Among us, 19 male members have FIRs against them, which included Muzaffar, for stone-throwing.”
Senior Superintendent of Police Bandipora told Kashmir Reader, “It was a simple case of murder. He was not associated with militancy in any way. The investigations are on.”
Amid a shutdown in Hajin, Muzaffar’s body was buried in the local graveyard. “We thought it better to bury him immediately as people were losing control over themselves,” Muzaffar’s uncle said.
The Lashkar-e-Toiba in a statement to news agencies stated that Muzaffar’s killing was carried out by Indian forces.
Quoting his chief Mehmood Shah, LeT spokesman Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi in a statement said, “The slain youth, namely Muzaffar Nata, whose headless body was recovered from Jhelum river, was killed by Indian forces. Ajit Doval’s team and their doctrine is the culprit behind the martyrdom of Kashmiri youth, to sabotage the freedom struggle of Kashmir.”
He said that Muzaffar Nata was “wrongfully” arrested 20 days before “for a crime he did not commit, and soon after his release, his head was cut off. Thus he embraced martyrdom at the hands of the coward Indian forces.”
He said that Indian agencies were trying to jeopardise the trust between the families of freedom movement fighters and militants, “by committing such sick acts of cowardice”.
“Kashmiri nation and Mujahideen are very well aware of the ill-fated Indian conspiracies and will not let them succeed in their plans,” the LeT chief, according to Ghaznavi, said.