Anantnag: For Manzoor Ahmad Wagay a year-long search for his son’s body might have come to an end this morning, after a decomposed body, shrouded in a tarpaulin sheet, was spotted in Mohammadpora area of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
Wagay is convinced the body is of his son Shakir Manzoor, a Territorial Army soldier who was abducted by militants on August 2 last year.
“His feet are intact. I found innumerable stitches on them, the stitches my son had received after meeting with an accident a few years back,” Wagay told Kashmir Reader.
He said that he recognised his hair as well. “I am sure it is him. Police have taken the body to Srinagar for DNA sampling and I am on my way to Srinagar as well,” Wagay said.
Wagay has been literally digging earth around his village for the past year with the terrible hope that he might stumble on the body of his son, who he believed had been killed by the militants after he was abducted.
“Turns out they had not buried him at all. The body, it looks like, had been stacked amidst wooden apple boxes and was now taken out and dropped by a roadside for people to find it,” Wagay told this reporter.
The family of Shakir after pleading with militants to hand the body over, “in case he had been killed,” and alleging the authorities did not do enough to find their son, had recently appealed that their son be declared a “martyr”.
Shakir was a rifleman with the 62bn of Indian Army’s Territorial wing and was aged 24 when he went missing. “He was travelling between the Bihibagh and Balpora army camps in Shopian district on August 2 and had stopped at home to have lunch,” a family source told Kashmir Reader.
He left his home at 5pm and had called home after half an hour asking them not to panic if his officer called, for he had met some friends on the way. “After that, his phone went dead and a few hours later his car was found charred, a few kilometres away from his home,” the family source said.
A few days later, his blood-stained clothes were found in an orchard. The family had been sure all along that he had been killed, and had then appealed to the militants to return his body.
The militants responded with an audio clip, saying they had done to Shakir what the Indian forces were doing to their fellow militants. “The Indian forces are burying our fellows at undisclosed locations and that is what we did,” the voice said.
The authorities in Kashmir have stopped handing over bodies of slain militants to their families since April last year, citing Covid precautions as a reason.
Wagay, during the last year, visited families of four militants, suspected to have abducted Shakir, with the hope that they might be of some help in locating the body.
“The families of the militants, however, maintained they were not in touch with their kids. Hope was waning now as three of the four militants have already been killed,” the family source said.
A police official from Kulgam district confirmed that a decomposed body was found in Mohammadpora area. “Though the family has identified some marks on the body, an official identification will be confirmed only after a DNA test ascertains what we fear,” the police official said.