Srinagar: “When will Papa return? He has gone to buy candies for me,” stutters 15-month-old Irfan without an iota of inkling that his 25-year-old father, Abrar Ahmad is missing and has been allegedly killed in an ‘encounter’ at Amshipora, Shopian.
Abrar, 25, was among the three youth of Peeri, Kotranka in Rajouri district, who disappeared after they left home on July 16 to work as daily-wage labourers in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.
Over two weeks later, families of the trio were shocked to see the purported picture of three alleged militants killed in an encounter at Amshipora village in the Shopian district on July 18. The bodies bear a stark resemblance to two of the missing labourers – the 17 year-old Abrar Khan and his brother-in-law Abrar Ahmad.
A third body in the picture – which family claims is of 20-year-old Imtiyaz Ahmad – is placed facedown with clothes pulled up over his head. Bullet marks can be seen on the back of the third body.
“Irfan Ahmed is waiting that his father will come back home. Abrar was earlier working in Kuwait as a labourer. His only fault is he went to Shopian in search of work to feed his family,” tweeted Guftar Ahmad Chaudhary, tribal activist and general secretary of J&K Socio-Political Activist Movement.
An eerie silence has descended on Abrar’s family after the incident. Neither his mother nor his wife know that he has been killed. Except for his father Mohammad Yousuf, all family members are currently mending the cattle up in the woods.
“I am the only person who knows about the tragedy. My wife and daughter in law do not know Abrar has been killed. They are currently mending cattle. They believe that he is working in Kashmir,” Yousuf told The Kashmir Monitor.
For the last two years, Abrar had been working in a Korean company in Kuwait. Three months before he came home on leave. He was scheduled to return but due to COVID 19 lockdown, he could not join.
“During his vacations, he constructed the house. He was readying to go back, but then COVID happened. He could not go. His passport and tickets are with me. Since he was now sitting idle, he decided to go to Kashmir to earn a livelihood,” said Yousuf.
Yousuf’s anxiety is growing deeper as he is unable to understand how to break the tragic news to his family. “What will I tell my family? What will I tell my grandson who is waiting that his dad will bring gifts and candies for him,” cried Yousuf.
With cries for justice growing shriller, Jammu and Kashmir police have decided to match the DNA of the alleged militants slain in Shopian encounter with the families of three missing Rajouri labourers.
“Taking cognizance of the claim made by the families, Shopian Police will examine the claimants and carry out DNA sampling for matching purposes. Besides identification, police will also investigate all other aspects as per the law in due course of time,” said a police spokesman in a statement on Tuesday.
He said police had provided “sufficient time for the identification of dead bodies at PCR Srinagar”. “However, dead bodies could not be identified. Later the bodies were buried in presence of Magistrate after conducting a post-mortem and preserving their DNA samples”, he said.
Army has also ordered a probe into the incident. “We have noted social media inputs linked to the operation at Shopian on 18 Jul 2020. The three Terrorists killed during the operation have not been identified and the bodies were buried based on established protocols. The army is investigating the matter,” said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar said on Monday.