Bodies exhumed from Handwara; families of Altaf, Mudasir say police have given assurance
Srinagar: After public outrage, political pressure, and unrelenting demands from their families, the bodies of Srinagar civilians Altaf Bhat and Dr Mudasir Gul, both of whom were killed in a disputed encounter at Hyderpora on Monday, were exhumed from a graveyard in Wadder Zachaldara area of Handwara on Thursday to be brought back to Srinagar. The bodies will be handed over to the families after five days of public outcry that innocent civilians were killed in the Hyderpora encounter by deliberately putting them in harm’s way during a counter-insurgency operation.
Relatives of the two families told Kashmir Reader that they had been assured by the police that the bodies will be handed over to them for performing the last rites. However, when it will happen has not been said clearly yet, they said.
“We are waiting for Mudasir’s arrival,” Mudasir’s relative told Kashmir Reader over phone.
It is most likely that the bodies will be handed over to the families during the night for a quiet burial under strict conditions. The families had earlier said that they will abide by all the measures specified by the police for the burial.
The 44-year-old businessman Altaf Bhat, and Dr Mudasir Gul, a dentist-turned-businessman from Srinagar’s Rawalpora, were among four persons killed in Monday’s encounter at Hyderpora. While police dubbed Gul as an ‘over ground worker’ (term for those who allegedly work for militants) and said Bhat was killed in ‘crossfire’, the families of the duo vehemently countered the police claim and asserted that both of them had no links with militants and were forcibly taken by the police to the encounter site.
After the encounter, the police had taken the bodies to Handwara and buried them there, a routine followed by the administration over the last three years for all militants killed in encounters. Though this practice was earlier confined to foreign militants only, it was later applied to locals as well, citing precautions against the spread of Covid-19.
The Valley’s main political parties, National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, and Peoples Conference, on Thursday had been demanding the return of the bodies and on Thursday had held protests in Srinagar.