The Bhat family rejected the Magisterial Inquiry and demanded that a judicial probe should be ordered.
SRINAGAR — The family of slain civilian Muhammad Altaf Bhat on Friday rejected the Magisterial Inquiry ordered by the Jammu and Kashmir administration and insisted that a judicial probe should be ordered to bring the facts of the military operation to the fore.
Muhammad Altaf Bhat was killed along with three others in a military operation in the Hyderpora area of Srinagar city on Monday evening. The two other slain have been identified as Dr Mudasir Gul and Aamir Magray, while the police said that the fourth person killed in the operation was a Pakistani militant.
Bhat’s niece Saima Bhat, who is also a senior journalist, told Mountain Ink that the family rejects the magisterial probe ordered into the operation and demands that a judicial probe should be ordered to ascertain the facts.
“We met the IGP and he agreed that my uncle was innocent and he regretted his killing,” Saima said. “So far numerous magisterial probes have been ordered but no culprit has been booked.” The Bhat family said that they will continue the fight for justice, peacefully, till the culprits are identified and punished.
After two days of protesting in Srinagar’s Press Enclave, the bodies were returned to the families late Thursday night and the funerals were held in the wee hours of Friday. “In the night hours, Altaf’s body was handed over to us at the Police Control Room,” said Abdul Majeed, Altaf’s brother.
The bodies of Bhat and Mudasir were returned on the condition that the funeral prayers be kept to a bare minimum and that no sloganeering takes place, according to the family of both Bhat and Dr Gul. The two were buried in a hurry in uptown Srinagar’s ancestral graveyards.
Earlier on Wednesday night, Bhat’s family was dragged into a police van after police raided the protest site in Srinagar’s Press Enclave. The family said that the police officials appeared in the Press Enclave immediately after the electricity was snapped. “They then dragged the protesting family members and detained them,” a relative of Bhat said. The family was allowed to go home after a brief detention.
Meanwhile, the demand for the return of the third slain Aamir Magray’s body has also gathered pace. “Aamir was innocent as were the other two,” Lateef Ahmad Magray, Aamir’s father said. He urged the administration to return his son’s body on humanitarian grounds.
Lateef submitted an application in Deputy Commissioner Ramban’s office on Friday for the return of his son’s body. He was informed that his application has been forwarded to the Divisional Commissioner’s office. “We are hopeful that we will get the body back.” Lateef insisted that Aamir was used as a “human shield” and killed in “cold blood”.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said that Aamir’s mourning family is yet to be given the body for a decent burial. She tweeted: “The fact that these families are begging for mortal remains instead of asking for justice reflects their lack of faith in the system. His body must be returned immediately.”
Three-time Jammu and Kashmir state lawmaker, Ruhullah Mehdi questioned the administration and asked if Aamir was a lesser mortal. He tweeted: “Is Amir Magray’s body returned to his family? And if not, why? Does the administration and also we (the society) think he was a child of a lesser mortal? [SIC].”
He also raised questions about the identity details of the fourth person killed in the operation. “And what about the identity and details of the 4th one killed? Or was there a 4th one? Was there even a combatant among them?”
The Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also called on the authorities to return the body of Amir Magray without delay.
In a statement, the amalgam said that it asks the authorities to desist from the criminal practice of ceasing bodies and denying their families the right to a proper burial. “It is abhorrently inhuman. It calls on the authorities to stop the wanton violence in Kashmir.”
The amalgam also reiterated its call for the “resolution of the Kashmir dispute” in accordance with the will and aspirations of the people”.
Kashmir valley observed a complete shutdown on Friday against the killings of four people. The call for shutdown was issued by both factions of the Hurriyat Conference led by Masarat Alam Bhat and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Most of the business establishments remained shut throughout the day while public transport was also off the roads. However, a thin movement of private vehicles plied on the roads. A strict shutdown was also witnessed in most of the other district headquarters in north and south Kashmir.
Four people were killed in a late Monday evening military operation including Muhammad Altaf Bhat, Dr Mudasir Gul, Aamir Magray and Haider whom police called a foreign militant. Bhat and Dr Gul were businessmen while Aamir worked as an office boy in Dr Mudasir’s construction business office.
Muhammad Raafi is a desk editor at the Mountain Ink. In about eight years of his career, he has reported for FT, Vice News, Al Jazeera English, TRT World, New Frame, The Wire and Article-14 among others.