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Saturday, October 16, 2021

A father’s search of 14 months ends, identifies body of a jawan in Kulgam

He was kidnapped by suspected militants while returning to the camp where he was posted. The same night, his charred vehicle was recovered from a field in neighbouring Kulgam district, about 16 km from his village.

Written by Naveed Iqbal | Srinagar |
Updated: September 23, 2021 7:32:57 am
Shakir Manzoor disappeared in August 2020. (Express Photo)

After more than 14 months of looking for the remains of his son, on Wednesday, Manzoor Ahmad Wagay received a call from a relative in a nearby village. “They said a body covered in tarpaulin has been found in an orchard, and that it is possibly Shakir’s.”

Shakir Manzoor, who was serving as a Rifleman in a Territorial Army unit at Balpora in Shopian, disappeared on August 2, 2020, after an Eid lunch at home. He was kidnapped by suspected militants while returning to the camp where he was posted. The same night, his charred vehicle was recovered from a field in neighbouring Kulgam district, about 16 km from his village.

About seven days later, Shakir’s clothes were found in a ditch 3 km from the house — a pair of beige trousers and a brown shirt covered in dried blood and mud. But with no trace of the body, Wagay launched a desperate search for his son.

On Wednesday, Wagay identified the body found in the Mohammadpora area of Kulgam district as Shakir’s. The body was recovered with a tracksuit and an amulet that the family says belonged to Shakir. “We are sure that it is Shakir. He had an accident a few years ago and had stitches on his foot. Though the body was decomposed, the doctors at the hospital, where the body was taken, cleaned the foot and we saw the stitches. Police want to confirm the identity and the body has been kept in Army custody overnight, but we will bury him tomorrow,” Shakir’s younger brother Shaan said.

Shaan, who was studying in Aligarh when Shakir went missing, had to drop out of college as the family exhausted all its resources looking for any trace of Shakir.

Wagay says he can finally find some closure and bury the remains of his son, the fifth of his six children and the only earning member in the family.

Of the four militants suspected to have kidnapped Shakir, Wagay visited the families of three to ask them where his son had been buried. Wagay believes that overground workers or the militants themselves, moved by his desperate appeals to allow his son a proper burial, may have exhumed the body and left it for the family to find.

DGP J&K Police Dilbag Singh told The Indian Express that while the family has identified the body as Shakir’s, “police have taken the DNA samples for authentication”.

 

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