ANANTNAG: When 23-year-old Mushtaq Ahmad Itoo heard of the killing of four militants in Frisal village of Nagbal, he rushed to the village along with two local boys to participate in the funeral prayers of the slain militants. Some two hours later, his family received news that Mushtaq was dead.
“He had lunch at noon. He left home on his two-wheeler without telling anyone where he was going. Two and a half hours later we heard the news of his death through social media,” said one of his relatives. “We initially refused to believe it, but after pictures of his dead body appeared on Facebook, we had to accept the reality.”
The relative said that it was only after Mushtaq was lowered in the grave that the family came to know he had gone to attend the funeral of the militants.
Mushtaq was hit by a bullet near his abdomen when government troops opened fire on the gathering at the encounter site. He was taken to district hospital Anantnag where doctors declared him brought dead.
A local boy who accompanied Mushtaq to Nagbal said that they reached the encounter site at about 2pm, hours after the encounter had ended.
“As soon as we reached near the encounter site we came to know that the bodies of the militants were in possession of the police and that they will be handed over to the families at 5pm. On learning about this, Mushtaq told us that we will leave only after offering jinaza to the slain militants,” the boy said.
The three boys were yet to decide to which village they should go first and how they could attend funeral prayers of all the militants, when the government forces came in their vehicles from the direction of the village market.
“On seeing the vehicles with troops who were firing warning shots and bursting teargas shells, people who had gathered near the spot started running for safety. When he heard the gunshots, Mushtaq told me that he will park his motorcycle at some safe place. While he was parking his motorcycle behind a stack of grass, the forces’ vehicles had reached close and they fired directly at him,” the boy said.
Mushtaq was a graduate who had also done a diploma in nursing but was running a wholesale grocery shop. Locals remember him as a humble, well-mannered boy who was passionate about Azadi.
“He was loved by everyone in the village. During the 2016 uprising, he participated in every pro-freedom rally. He also never missed attending funeral prayers of killed militants,” said Abdul Rashid, a local.
Mushtaq’s father Muhammad Ibrahim Itoo could not have a last glimpse of his son. He had gone outside the state a few days ago and it was there that he learnt of his son’s death.
“His father had gone to Chandigarh a few days ago. When he heard the news of Mushtaq’s killing, he tried to arrange an air ticket but failed. As it was not possible for him to return home overnight, he gave consent for his son’s burial. It was only after his consent that we buried Mushtaq after the evening prayers,” locals told Kashmir Reader.