As evening descended in Uri town on Monday, bodies of four militants who had attacked an Army camp inside the Brigade headquarters on Sunday morning were quietly buried in a graveyard adjacent to the garrison here.
“They (the Army) called police officers and a group of eight-ten people from the town, and handed over the bodies for last rites. Army officers did not want the bodies to be taken out of the garrison till it was time for the burial,” a local, who did not wish to be named, told The Indian Express. “The bodies were handed over only after the search operation had concluded.”
“Both the Army and the local civilian administration were apprehensive that if the bodies of the militants are taken out for post-mortem and last rites, a large crowd may gather. It can happen because people are curious,” another local said. “They were apprehensive that there could be a protest. Anything can happen once a crowd gathers. So nobody from the Army or the administration wanted to take any chances.”
On Monday morning, an ambulance of the J&K health service department went to the Brigade headquarters. A senior health department official said the Army had requested them to send a team to conduct an autopsy of the four militants. “As per the report of the doctors who conducted the autopsy, the militants were in their mid 20s,” a health department official said.
Locals said that members of the Uri bazaar committee, an Imam and a few elders from the town were called to arrange the last rites. Sources said a team of the National Investigation Agency had also arrived, and it was only after they had inspected the bodies that the four militants were buried.
One of the locals said that those called in to perform the last rites were not allowed to see the faces of the militants. “They took the bodies, offered jinaza (funeral prayers) and buried the bodies in a hurry,” he said.
The decision to bury the militants in Uri was a departure from the norm because bodies of foreign militants in north Kashmir are generally buried at Kitchama graveyard, located 25 km from Uri town and set up exclusively for this purpose.
Meanwhile, there was a tense calm in Uri town. The main market was shut and people sat in groups on shop fronts, discussing the attack and its ramifications. There wasn’t any Army movement in the town, though. The toll gate where the road enters the garrison area was closed but there weren’t any soldiers standing around. The bunker adjacent to it was also empty as soldiers kept vigil from inside the garrison.
At 11 am, there were two loud blasts which caused fear among people, who apprehended another attack. The Army had detonated the leftover explosives. There was a similar blast at 3 pm.
As the night fell and the lights of the Brigade headquarters were switched on, Uri looked peaceful. Inside the homes, however, people remained anxious. Nobody thinks that there is going to be a war. But that isn’t comforting to a people who will be among the first to be at the receiving end if cross-LoC shelling were to resume.