Heff (Shopian): After twenty rounds of funeral prayers in which one lakh people are said to have participated, Hizbul Mujahideen commander Saddam Paddar and his fellow militant Bilal Ahmad Mohand (Bita Maulvi) were laid to rest at the martyrs’ graveyard of Shopian’s Heff village on Monday. On Sunday evening Saddam’s mother, Firdousa, had given a gun salute to her son with the help of local Hizb militant Syed Naveed. On Monday morning, she again fired three shots in the air from the gun of local militant Zeenat-ul-Islam. She fired the shots standing on the terrace of a house that overlooked the ground where funeral prayers were offered.
The sea of people that gathered in Heff had begun pouring in from Monday afternoon. People walked through the heavy rains on Monday and found a way past the blockades put up on roads by government forces. They came through orchards, paddy and mustard fields, climbing up hillocks and wading through streams. Their clothes were full of mud and their limbs full of scratches from the barbed-wire fences of apple orchards.
Close relatives of the slain militants said that 15 rounds of funeral prayers had already been held on Sunday, and ten more were attended on Monday by about one lakh people who had come from Pulwama, Kulgam, Anantnag, Srinagar, Pampore and even from north Kashmir areas of Bandipora and Kupwara. They said that the rush of people was so much that thousands were not even able to see the bodies of the rebels.
The bodies were lowered in the earth at about 11am. The funeral ground and the graveyard was decorated with photographs and hoardings of dozens of militants, including Burhan Wani, Wasim Malla, Wasim Shah, Adil Malik, Irfan Ganie, Zahid Mir and several other slain militants from Shopian and other south Kashmir areas. Eyewitnesses said that 20 active militants of different outfits appeared since Sunday evening in Heff and offered gun salutes to the slain rebels. Locals identified some of the militants as Zeenat-ul-Islam, Wasim Wani, and Syed Naveed.
Residents of Heff village said that as many as eight-thousand people stayed in Heff for the night, the people of Heff offering them every kind of comfort. People in the neighbouring villages of Heff had also made arrangements of food, petrol and vehicles for those who had come from far-off places.
Heff village has buried 14 local militants, including commander Saddam Paddar, since insurgency began in Kashmir. Alongside Saddam was buried Bilal Ahmad Mohand, a 41-year-old veteran militant who has left behind two daughters, wife, younger brother, and elderly parents.
Villagers in Heff said that before joining militant ranks, both Saddam and Bilal were living a luxurious life. Bilal was working in the government’s public health engineering department and his family owned 20 kanals of orchard land. Saddam, after leaving school education at a young age, was doing his family work of rearing apples.
Heff village is situated on the Shopian-Litter road, some 14 kilometers from district headquarters. It is covered with dense forests and apple orchards.