Srinagar: Twenty three–year–old Khalid Muzaffar Wani of Tral was “tortured to death” by army to “break his brother, Burhan Muzaffar Wani’s determination,” the family said Tuesday, even as army and police maintained that the slain was an over ground worker (OGW) and was killed in exchange of fire.
Burhan, it may be mentioned is a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander.
“These fools don’t understand that Khalid had no single mark of bullet on his body. So how did he die in cross firing?” his father Muzaffar Ahmad Wani, told reporters after offering funeral prayers of his son.
“My son had visible torture marks on his body. His teeth and vomer were broken, head smashed with gun butts, and his wrists carried marks of a rope. All these facts conclude that my son was handcuffed and tortured to death. Their claim that he died in cross fire is not true,” Wani added.
Principal at a government higher secondary school, Wani said that the army initially claimed to have killed a Pakistani militant in the Tral forests. Later, he said army retracted from their statement and said his son was killed when militants fired upon an army patrol.
“The residents of Hari Parigam had seen army whisking my son and his friends when they were collecting water from a spring. I presume army might have asked Khalid about Burhan’s whereabouts. On his denial, they must have tortured him to death,” says Wani.
He said after the killing, army had detained Khalid’s friends to pressurize them to toe their line or face similar fate. He said in a lawless state, it won’t be difficult for police to extract a confession from the boys.
“Army’s foolishness can be gauged by the fact that they replaced my son’s clothes with worn out army fatigue. His body was covered in a two-piece tattered pheran to make him look like a militant. Khalid was son of a gazette officer. He had the best of clothing,” he said.
Putting a brave face before the media persons, Wani said that the killings and persecutions by army can never scare Muslims of martyrdom.
“How many Khalid’s will they kill? If they kill one, hundreds will be born. If they kill one Burhan, thousands like him will be born. We all are ready to sacrifice our lives for freedom,” said Wani, as hundreds of young boys, who had encircled him shouted slogans “Burhan bhai kadam badhao, hum tumhare saath hain. Shaheed ki jo moat hain who Qoam ki hayat hain,”
Dismissing the family’s claim of torturing Khalid to death, an army spokesman told Kashmir Reader that the youth was an OGW and was slain in an exchange of fire in the Kamla forests of Tral.
“Khalid was a listed OGW. I don’t know what his father has told media. We have issued the statement of the incident and that’s all we have to say,” the spokesman said.
He said that the encounter took place by chance when the army’s patrolling party was fired upon my militants in the hills. He said in the encounter, one soldier was also injured.
“After a surge in militant attacks, army had heightened patrolling in the militancy infested areas to maintain a pressure. And on Tuesday afternoon, we had a chance encounter that led to the death of the OGW,” he added.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Syed Javed Mujtaba Gilani in a hurriedly convened news conference here said that police have certain instances and certain proofs that the slain youth was involved in over ground activities of the militants.
“This is all what we have so far. Why they had gone to the forest area is again the subject matter of investigation,” Gilani said
When asked about the family’s allegations that Khalid was tortured to death, IGP Kashmir said that the police will be able to comment about the nature of injury after receiving the post-mortem report.
“We have conducted the post-mortem of the body. Once the report comes, then only we will be able to say about the nature of injury on his body. It will take some days,” he added.