TANGMARG: The bullet-ridden body found in the outskirts of village Devbugh in Kunzer area of north Kashmir’s Tangmarg on Saturday morning was later identified as that of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militant Fayaz Ahmed Bhat.
Residents of the village said they had heard multiple gunshots at around 9:15 pm on Friday and, early in the morning, a local farmer found a body in camouflaged attire lying in his farm and then informed other locals. Later, the spokesperson of the HM told a Srinagar-based news agency that the body was that of one of its commanders, Fayaz, who had “attained martyrdom while fighting with Indian forces in North Kashmir’s Tangmarg area”.
The militant outfit’s spokesperson said that Bhat, along with his associates, was on a ‘mission’ when they walked into an ambush by the Indian army: “There was an army ambush and Fayaz lost his life during the brief gun-fight. However, his other associates managed to escape from the spot.”
The spokesperson added that Bhat had been active for the past six years and was a “member of the ‘Burhanuddin Sarhadi Squad’ and had participated in various successful operations against the Indian army in border regions”.
Locals said the body was taken to Kunzer, where there was a protest. Youths staged a demonstration and pelted stones on the police, who responded with tear gas shells. According to police officials, the body was shifted to Baramulla for a post-mortem, and then sent to Fayaz’s native village of Wailoo, Tangmarg.
People in Wailoo alleged that Fayaz had been killed in a fake encounter
and accused government forces of doing so. Anti-India and pro-freedom slogans erupted during Fayaz’s funeral in his village, with reportedly two thousand people in attendance.
Locals and Fayaz’s family said that he had joined the HM several years ago, was arrested and then released after some time. They said he started his own business after his release, but was forced to rejoin militancy due to ‘oppression by the army and the SOG’.
Locals also said Fayaz’s family had been targeted by the army and SOG for many years, which was the reason for his rejoining militancy. The deceased militant has six children, and the eldest one Irshad Ahmad Bhat, was reportedly tortured for a week in a nearby army camp just some days ago. Fayaz’s brother, Gulzar Ahmad Bhat, was also tortured many times by the SOG, they added.
Kunzer, Pattan and other adjacent areas observed a shutdown in protest against the killing.