Hajin: Heartbreaking scenes were witnessed again in Hajin on Thursday when the body of Hilal Ahmad Parray was brought to his home in Parray Mohalla. The 28-year old Parray was abducted from his home by masked gunmen the previous night and his body was found on Thursday morning by villagers in a nearby apple orchard. His hands were tied behind his back, and his body bore several torture marks, visible on his back and legs, villagers said.
Under a shamiana canopy erected in the lawn of his house, women wailed and lamented. Outside, a gathering of local youths talked in whispers. “We don’t know who the next target is going to be,” a young man said.
Hilal’s family members said that “five masked gunmen came knocking at our door in the night at around 11:30pm. They asked for Hilal. When we refused to open the door, they barged inside and took away Hilal.”
“We were sure that he will return but when the entire night passed and dawn broke, we became anxious. After that we began searches nearby, till some locals broke the news that Hilal’s body was lying in an apple orchard,” a family member said.
Though Hilal’s body bore no bullet marks, it had bruises on the thighs and the back. “It was clear to us that the cause of death was strangulation,” a police officer said.
A doctor at Hajin hospital said that they were not able to carry out the post-mortem because of reluctance of family members and the townspeople.
Hilal’s uncle, who wished not to be named, said that Hilal was innocent. “He never spoke anything against militants or the cause (of Azadi). If it is proven that he had wronged someone or informed on militants, we will not mourn for his loss,” he said.
Hilal has left behind a distraught wife, parents, four sisters, two among them still to be married, and a young, college-going brother.
Police in Hajin once again blamed the killing on a group of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants. SSP Bandipora Sheikh Zulfikar told Kashmir Reader, “The group of LeT militants includes a local recruit. They are carrying out these killings in Hajin.”
The spate of killings in Hajin by “unknown gunmen” has come after an open threat from militants to eliminate all informers in Hajin. Audio and video messages issued by a local LeT militant have surfaced online in the past few weeks. The militant has been saying that “people who refuse the call for hartal (shutdown) will bear consequences.”
However, Hilal’s family has a history of association with militants. In 1992, during a massive crackdown in Hajin that lasted seven days, Hilal’s father Abdul Rashid Parray was picked up by government forces and was severely tortured, leaving him bedridden for months.
His uncle, Bashir Ahmad Parray alias Bohra, was the top commander of Hizbul Mujahideen and was killed during an encounter at nearby Banyari village in August 1997, a relative of Hilal, Ehsan, told Kashmir Reader.
Witnesses said that hundreds participated in Hilal’s funeral prayers at the Parray Mohalla graveyard in Hajin.