ANANTNAG — Amid a complete shutdown and protests, the three Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militants who died in a gunfight yesterday were laid to rest in Bijbehara—the hometown of chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed—on Tuesday. Emotional scenes were witnessed as the trio was laid to rest.
The slain militants Tanveer Ahmad Bhat and Aadil Ahmad Sheikh, both residents of Bijbehara town, and Sartaj Ahmad Lone of Wopzan village of Bijbehara died in a brief gunfight in Silgam village of Aishmuqam area on Monday afternoon.
Tanveer lived in the neighbourhood of the chief minister’s ancestral residence in Baba Mohalla area. A 26-year-old graduate, Tanveer worked in a private consumer goods company before he left home early this year to join the militant ranks. He is survived by his father Mubarak Ahmad Bhat, a retired government employee; a brother who is a banker, mother and sister.
Aadil, 22, hailed from Goriwan locality in Bijbehara and used to earn his living by working as a labourer before joining the militant ranks in June this year. He is survived by his father Fayaz Ahmad Sheikh, an auto-driver; brother, who is also a labourer, mother and two sisters.
Sartaj, 17, hailed from adjacent Wupzan village and was a Class 12th student before he joined the militant ranks last month. He left home on October 23 and had joined the militant ranks, sources said.
The three militants were laid to rest amid tears and sobs. All eyes around turned moist as people were desperately making way into the funeral procession to have a glimpse of the slain youth.
Sartaj was laid to rest at a graveyard in his native village Wupzan while Tanveer and Aadil were laid to rest in the martyrs’ graveyard in New Housing Colony where the 1993 Bijbehara massacre victims are also laid to rest.
“This (graveyard) used to be a public park till the Bijbehara massacre of October 22, 1993, when it was turned into a martyrs’ graveyard,” said an elderly resident, Nazir Ahmad.
He said most of the young boys used to play in the Park but when there was no space left in the local graveyard as well as another martyrs’ graveyard, they were buried in the same Park where they would play. “Now, we again buried two more boys here. Nothing seems to have changed in Kashmir,” he said.
The bodies of the slain youth were handed over to their families on Monday but were kept in the local Jamia Masjid for the night.
Early this morning, despite restrictions imposed by police, people in hundreds turned towards New Housing Colony amid pro-freedom, anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans and joined the funeral procession of two of the slain militants there.
Scores of women were also seen in the funeral procession and showering sweets and flower petals on the coffins.
People also shouted slogans against Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while slogans in favour of Hizb commander Burhan Wani were also heard during the procession.
Tehreek-i-Hurriyat leader Mir Hafizullah led the funeral prayers in which other Hurriyat leaders including General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Sumji also participated.
Veteran pro-freedom leader and Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Geelani addressed the mourners over the phone, urging them to remain “resilient and adopt steadfastness in the struggle for freedom.”
“The pro-India politicians are responsible for strengthening Indian occupation in Kashmir and we should desist from participating in their rallies and stay away from elections,” said Geelani.
After the funeral prayers, massive clashes erupted in the town. Angry youth took to the streets and pelted stones on police and paramilitary forces who retaliated by lobbing tear gas canisters and aerial firing.
Youth also attacked the ancestral house of Mufti Muhammad Sayeed at Baba Mohalla with stones and bricks. The security personnel guarding the house lobbed tear gas canisters to disperse the protesters. Later, additional contingents of forces were rushed towards the spot.
In the ensuing clashes, which were on till this report was filed, several people including cops and CRPF men sustained injuries. “Two youth sustained teargas shell injury and were rushed to Sub-district Hospital Bijbehara for treatment,” locals said.
Earlier this morning, the youth hoisted a Pakistani flag on the ancestral house of the chief minister at Baba Mohalla. The flag was later removed by the forces guarding the house, locals said.
A complete shutdown was observed in Islamabad, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian districts.
Police and CRPF men were deployed in strength in Bijbeahra and Islamabad towns. The forces enforced restrictions near Batengoo and Sangam areas on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway to prevent people from reaching Bijbehara.
YOUTH HOIST PAK FLAG ON CM’S HOUSE
A Pakistani flag was hoisted atop the ancestral house of chief minister Muhammad Sayeed in this south Kashmir town on Tuesday, witnesses said.
People in huge numbers thronged the area to participate in the funeral procession of two of the three local militants who died in a gunfight in Ashmuqam area in the district on Monday.
As the militants were being carried in a procession from Jamia Masjid for the funeral prayers, a few youths rushed towards the residence of Mufti at Baba Mohalla, dogged the security personnel guarding it and managed to hoist the flag, local residents said.
“The flag was hoisted on the outer wall of the ancestral house presently being used as the waiting room for Peoples Democratic Party workers,” they said.
CM’s brother Muhammad Amin Mufti and his son Sajad Amin, party coordinator in south Kashmir, reside in the same complex. One of the slain militants, Tanveer Ahmad, lives in the neighbourhood of Mufti’s ancestral house.
Later, the security personnel guarding the house immediately removed the flag. However, police claimed the flag was not hoisted on the CM’s house.
“Our reports suggest that the flag was hoisted on the adjacent house and not on the CM’s ancestral residence,” a police official claimed.
The CM’s house was also attacked with stones and bricks on Monday night as well as this morning after which the vigil around the house was strengthened, locals said. The forces lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the angry youth. (GK)