Shopian: A policeman from Shopian who had buried many militants at the government-designated graveyard in Sonamarg this year was unaware that today he had to bury his own younger brother in the same graveyard.
Zubair Ahmad Lone, a resident of Turkwagam village of Shopian, was killed along with two other youths in an encounter which broke out on Tuesday evening on Srinagar outskirts. Zubair, according to family members, was working as a mason alongside pursuing his education.
Sources said that two brothers of Zubair work in the Jammu and Kashmir Police and one of them was posted in Ganderbal where he several times oversaw the burial of slain militants since April 16, when the government began shifting the bodies to Sonmarag for burial citing the Covid-19 pandemic. As many as 158 militants have since been buried in graveyards in Gantamulla (Baramulla district) and Sonamarg (Ganderbal district).
Slain Zubair’s policeman brother Mohammed Altaf told Kashmir Reader that his brother had left home on Tuesday at 1:30 pm after having lunch. “Our maternal home is also in our village and family members thought he was there till morning when they called me on the phone. As we tried to contact him on Wednesday, the news of his killing was reported on social media,” he said. Altaf confirmed he was several times sent to Sonmarag for the burial of militants by the authorities.
The family comprises more than 30 people, all of whom had left home for Srinagar after news of Zubair’s killing reached the family.
Zubair’s family members, as those of the two other slain youths, have contested the official version and said their sons were not militants but civilians. Many other people on social media also contested the police and army’s claims while sharing videos of the family members saying so.
A member of Zubair’s family told Kashmir Reader that only one vehicle, carrying the parents of Zubair and one of his policemen brothers, was allowed to go to Sonmarag for his burial. He said that another policeman brother of Zubair is posted in Ganderbal itself.
Locals from Turkwangam who had assembled in large numbers outside the home of the slain said that about four dozen cars from the village had gone to Srinagar when the news of Zubair’s killing reached the village.
Mobile internet services were barred in entire Shopian district soon after family members claimed that the slain were innocent.