Govt snaps Internet services in Kupwara, blocks road to the village to prevent people from attending funeral of 5 militants
Kupwara: The five militants, who the army claimed were killed in Check village of Drugmulla area in a ‘daylong gunfight’ on Saturday, were buried on Sunday amid pro-freedom sloganeering by the residents who rubbished army’s version of the incident.
The villagers said the army entered the village on Friday night and early Saturday zeroed in on a locked house, whose owner, Syed Shah, currently lives in Srinagar.
Till 3pm, the residents said they heard intermittent gunfire and sounds of explosion, but at no point of time it looked that a gunfight was raging on.
“For the entire Friday night the soldiers stayed in our homes where some of them dozed off, went leisurely to bathrooms and even ate food. Have you ever seen the army so relaxed during a gunfight?” said Mohammad Afzal Bhat, who lives next to Shah’s home.
For the entire stretch of the “encounter”, the villagers vainly pleaded before the army that they shall be allowed to go near the house and make an appeal to the militants to surrender.
“One of them told me ‘aay budhey goli woli lage gi (old man, you will die)’. They didn’t let us because we knew all along that there was no one inside the house,” said Shafi (not his real name).
Shah, the owner of the house, told Kashmir Reader, “When I reached here from Srinagar I came to know from my neighbors that no one is inside (the house) because they didn’t hear the other side fire. It was only the army that was firing bullets and grenades.”
“I told the commander let me go inside my home and if there is a militant there I will make him surrender. But they didn’t let me. They blew up the house with mortar shells at about 3pm. I am still not able to enter my house as the army said they have forgotten a grenade in my lawns and directed us no to go near to the debris of the house,” Shah added.
However, the army’s warning turned out to be a ruse. When the villagers entered the house at about 4pm, they were expecting to find the bodies of the militants under the debris.
“Although the house had been razed to the ground, there was not a single burn mark on the body of any of the militants. Neither were the bodies covered in dust, which you normally expect when an entire house collapses on someone. What we did see what that the leg of one of the martyrs was covered with a bandage. It seems he was already injured and had been treated somewhere else,” said a villager who requested anonymity.
“The bodies smelled and when we were performing ablutions on them the hairs of the beards came off. The bullet wounds were festering. It shows they had been killed a few days ago. In our village they faked a gunfight,” he added.
He said several heads of cattle were killed and some houses suffered damaged in this “staged gunfight”.
How a soldier die and another suffered injuries, as claimed by the army?
“They were injured when their own grenade exploded,” the villagers said.
Army spokesman Lt Col NN Joshi said the “allegations of staged encounter were baseless and are being spread to malign the image of Indian army”.
When the villagers announced on Saturday that the bodies would be kept at a local Darsgah and funeral prayers will be held on Sunday so that people from neighbouring can also participate in the last rites, the government snapped mobile network services in Kupwara and sealed with razor wire and other barricades the entry points of Check village. The mobile services were restored after the militants were buried.
The attendance of the thousands of people in the funerals of militants has come as an embarrassment for the government, which often says there is no support for militancy.
At about 11 am on Sunday, a couple of hundred men performed the last rites of the five militants. Their bodies were draped in white cloth, sprinkled with attar (natural perfume) and holy water from zum zum well of Kaa’ba.
The mourners shouted anti-India, pro-freedom and pro-martyrs slogans. Bashir Ahmad Qureshi, a member of Hurriyat Conference, addressed them.
Member of Legislative Assembly Engineer Rashid was reportedly detained while on way to Drugmulla to participate in the funeral prayers.