Maldair (Shopian): Irfan-Ul-Haq, who picked up arms in 2016 when he was an MTech student, was the brother of six sisters and the only son of a well-off family. On Sunday he was buried in the local martyrs’ graveyard at his native village Maldaira, some 13 kilometres from district headquarters Shopian, amid pro-freedom, anti India, and pro-Pakistan slogans. At least 10 militants from his Hizb group came to his funeral and offered gun salutes to their comrade.
Officially it is Saddam Padder who is Hizbul commander in the area, but on the ground it was Irfan who was holding that position.
Women were seen beating their breasts and wailing for the lost son of the village. Locals said that he was dear not only to his family but to the entire village because he was pious and never quarrelled with anyone.
A friend of Irfan said that he was an excellent cricketer who had participated in district and state-level tournaments. He added that he had put up Irfan’s cricket kit in his drawing room.
At his funeral, locals were seen preventing youths from chanting pro-Zakir Musa slogans. Some of them were seen beating with sticks those who tried to chant slogans in favour of Zakir Musa, the estranged Hizbul commander who has floated his own outfit to fight for the cause of Islam instead of Kashmir.
According to family members, Irfan joined militant ranks on February 14, 2016. “A month before he joined militants, he was arrested by police and was in custody for about 15 days. He was beaten ruthlessly while in custody and after his release he was on bed for a month. As soon as he recovered, he joined the rebel ranks,” a family source said.
Family members said that Irfan lost his mother when he was five years old.
Eyewitnesses told Kashmir Reader that more than eight-thousand mourners, including women and children, attended his funeral prayers at Maldair. The rush of mourners was so huge that large crowds were seen on roads up to two kilometres from the village.
Moin Islam, a neighbour, said that Irfan had secured admission at a university in Chandigarh but he left it to join militant ranks. “Before joining the MTech course, he completed a Bachelors in Food Technology at Islamic University of Science and Technology at Awantipora, with high grades,” the neighbour said. He informed that Irfan’s father was a retired officer of the government’s horticulture department.
Friends and neighbours said that Irfan was a tech-savvy guy who controlled the internet activities of his group.
At Maldair, meanwhile, several correspondents of local dailies were injured when a fence collapsed due to the heavy rush of people on the stage where the body was kept for funeral prayers.
Among the militants who came to offer gun salutes at the funeral, locals identified Saddam Padder, Zinat ul Islam, and Wasim Shah of Heff.