Thousands offer funeral prayers after clashes with police
Sopore: In Sopore, people woke up on Friday completely ignorant that a militant had been killed in Handwara and that he was Naseer Ahmad Teli, son of Ghulam Mohiuddin Teli, a local boy who had left home only a month ago. When the news came, it was as if a raw wound had been pricked. The people of Sopore walked out of their homes and onto the roads that overnight heavy rain had left slippery and slushy. They were going towards Gulababad locality in Arampora, where the 28-year-old Naseer Teli, popularly known as “Jaja”, lived before he joined the Tehreek-Ul-Mujahideen this October.
According to reports, a check post was laid at Pohrupath, near Sagipora in Handwara, late Thursday evening by MVCP forces and army’s 9 Para soliders. A private vehicle was signalled to stop. From within the vehicle militants opened fire. In retaliatory fire by the government forces, a militant was killed.
Sources in the police department said that one AK-47 and other ammunition such as grenades were recovered from the possession of the killed militant.
A photo of Naseer Ahmad Teli had gone viral on social media in the first week of October, in which he was seen carrying an AK-47 rifle.
The massive gathering of mourners at Naseer’s funeral in Arampora had begun to form early morning, when people began arriving from every part of Sopore and adjoining hamlets despite the rain and the strict restrictions imposed by government forces in Sopore.
Numerous police vehicles were seen on the roads, the policemen carrying guns and batons and ready for a charge. Some of the mourners were seen thanking Allah for the rain, which hindered the movement of both police vehicles and police boots.
With roads being barricaded in Sopore town, feet were the only mode of transport. Thousands walked to Teli’s home, where women and children jostled with men for a glimpse of the militant’s face. When the body was lifted on shoulders to be taken for burial, women showered it with candy and flowers from the windows of their homes.
The funeral procession went through small lanes of Arampora with youth crying, shouting, and saluting the martyr. At Chankipora locality of Arampora, where the funeral was scheduled to take place in a park, police blocked the procession. When the people refused to step back, the police fired tear gas shells and PAVA shells.
Angry youth pelted the government forces with stones and for some time there was a delay in the funeral prayers of the slain militant. The people did not budge and the funeral prayers were held at the park in Chankipora locality. The park was packed to the brim, the mourners standing in the intense cold and heavy rainfall in completely wet clothes.
The majority of the people reached Teli’s home so early that it was unlikely they had had any breakfast. But they raised loud, energetic slogans for Azadi and in honour of Teli. Hundreds of people were trying to record the funeral on their mobile phones, though the heavy rainfall was clouding the picture.
Teli’s brother Tariq Ahmad said that Naseer had gone missing a month ago, following which the family filed a report at Sopore police station. After a few days they came to know through social media that Naseer had become a militant.
The picture of Teli that appeared on social media announced that he had joined Tehreek-ul-Mujahedeen on October 3, with the rank of district commander of Baramulla.
According to Tariq, Naseer was forced to pick up the gun. “They arrested my brother a number of times on the allegation of militant activities. They even slapped him with a couple of PSAs in 2007 and 2008 though he had committed no offence. We had to pay a lot of cash to secure his release. After that, he spent his life normally but on 3rd of October he went out saying that he was going to get bread. He did not come back. We had not seen him since then. Today we received his dead body,” Tariq said.
Naseer has left behind two brothers, a sister, and aged parents. He was laid to rest at the martyrs’ graveyard in Chankipora locality of Sopore, adjacent to the park where his funeral was held.
Meanwhile, all educational institutions remained shut in Sopore amid curfew-like restrictions. Internet services also remained snapped during the day.