Bodies of Mohammad Altaf Bhat and Mudasir Gul, two civilians killed in the Hyderpora encounter, were laid to rest hours after they were exhumed in Srinagar, officials said on Friday, November 19. The bodies, which were exhumed at Handwara after sundown on Thursday, reached Srinagar around midnight, they said.
The officials said emotional scenes were witnessed as soon as the bodies of Bhat and Gul reached Barzulla and Pirbagh, respectively. Men, women and children waiting for the bodies broke down, wailing over the mortal remains as they caught the last glimpse of the slain before they were laid to rest.
After sometime, the bodies were taken out in processions to the local graveyards amidst chanting of religious verses. The authorities had told the families to limit the gathering and bury them quickly, the officials said. They said the bodies were laid to rest at their ancestral graveyards in Barzulla and Pirbagh after funeral prayers were held.
This is for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year that the body of a person buried under police watch was returned to their kin.
The exhumation came after tremendous pressure from the families as well as mainstream politicians, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, and civil society groups.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday demanded a judicial inquiry into the Hyderpora encounter in which police claimed to have killed two terrorists and two terror associates.
The administration on Thursday ordered a magisterial probe into the encounter amid protests by families of three of the four persons killed in the encounter claiming their relatives were innocent.
"I demand a judicial inquiry into the Hyderpora encounter to find out how and why people were killed. It is a case of police and not of the Army. There should be an inquiry under a high court judge," Azad told reporters in Kathua on Thursday.
He asked how can a police team probe allegations against the police themselves. Azad said that while he respects the police and has been a great admirer of the Army and security forces, there is need to ensure that such things do not happen, especially in Srinagar city. "If such things take place in the capital, then people will question what must be happening in the hinterland," he added.
The magisterial probe into the Hyderpora killings was ordered amid protests by the family members of Mohammad Altaf Bhat (the building owner), Mudasir Gul (a tenant) and Amir Magray (Gul's office boy). They have described the killings as cold-blooded murder.