The gravedigger of foreigners

The gravedigger of foreigners
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Baramulla: Abdul Majeed Mir runs a tea shop in the main market near police station Gantamulla. It is a hilly area, some 16 kilometres from Baramulla main town. When this correspondent reached the main market and asked the old man sitting at the corner of the tea shop, “Where can I find the man who buries guest militants in this area?”, he didn’t reply.
Then a voice came from inside the tea shop, “Why are you looking for me?” The appearance of the man was scary: long black hair, dense beard, and a face without expression. When I told him that I am from the press and have come from afar to talk to you, he welcomed me inside the shop and offered tea.
“Do you bury guest militants in the area?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he replied. “I volunteered for this job when I was in my 20s. Now, at the age of 50, I believe it is more of a vocation, something I am doing for the sake of Allah. On the day of judgement, Allah will pay me well for this deed.”
Abdul Majeed Mir is a resident of Gantamulla Colony. He said as a young man he volunteered for the job of burying foreign militants “because nobody wanted to get involved in such things.”
“I took the responsibility on my shoulders and I will continue to do this job till my death,” Mir said.
He remembers clearly the number of graves of foreign militants in different areas of Gantamulla that he has dug in the past thirty years. “In Kitchama area of Gantamulla lie 300 graves of guest militants, in Batnasabun Shrine area are 14, in Ijura 3, and near Gantamulla police station 90. These 90 guest militants buried near police station Gantamulla were martyred after Burhan (Wani) saab was martyred in July 2016. Now, every guest militant that gets killed is buried near the police station. I have so far dug graves for about 413 militants. I have buried them all with my own hands,” he said.
“I have never been afraid. Only once, during last year, when some guest militant was killed in the south and I received a call from the police station to dig a grave, when the body was brought by the police, I was performing the last rites and I saw that the body was charred beyond imagination. The body had shrunk; it seemed so small that for the first time in 30 years I felt scared. My hands shivered as I lowered it into the grave,” Mir recounted.
“Among the 413 guest militants that I have buried, only one was given gusl (last bath). That militant had died in a bike accident in Sopore in February this year,” Mir said.
The Gantamulla police station has Mir’s mobile phone number. Whenever in any part of Kashmir a foreign militant is killed, he gets a call to dig a grave. Sometimes he gets a call in the night. He instantly knows what he has to do whenever his phone screen shows the number of the police station as calling.
“I clean blood from their faces and hands, take away the things from their bodies like a ring or anything else, and wrap their bodies in a white cloth. Then, after proper prayers, I bury them in the grave and put the number over their gravestone which the police provides to me,” Mir explained.
When asked if he keeps with him the rings that he removes from the fingers of the dead, he replied, “Yes. I don’t give them to police as I keep them with me as a memory of these martyrs. It gives me satisfaction that I have something with me of these martyrs who laid down their lives in our Kashmir.”
Mir ended the conversation saying he could not share more details due to personal reasons. When this correspondent was taking his leave and offered him money for the tea, he refused to take it. “You are my guest,” he said and bade me farewell with a prayer for my well-being.