“If my son was killed in an encounter why his body didn’t bear a bullet wound,” asks Muzaffar Ahmad Wani. “It was a custodial killing”.
Wani’s son Khalid Muzaffar was killed on Monday evening by the army in the forests of Tral. Army termed Khalid a militant and said he was killed in an encounter.
But Wani and the villagers of Tral don’t agree. A principal of a government higher secondary school, Wani says his son was “tortured to death” because his younger brother Burhan Wani is a militant.
“I looked at every inch of his body, from toe to head, and there was no bullet mark on his body,” Wani said. “He was tortured. All his teeth had been damaged, his nose was broken and his forehead and skull too were broken, perhaps by gun butts. His only fault was that he was brother of a militant”.
Khalid, who was doing post graduate degree in economics, was killed on Monday morning by the army at the Kamla forests of Tral. His three friends, who accompanied him in the forests escaped and are in police custody. The villagers say that Khalid and his three friends had gone to the forests to meet Burhan, younger brother of Khalid and a Hizbul Mujahideen militant. They say Khalid was picked by the army after a brief shootout with the militants and killed in custody.
“They had tried to fake an encounter,” Wani says. “They (army) had put a camouflage shirt on his body and a torn pheran”.
On Tuesday morning, police said that it recovered another body from the forests – of Younis Ahmad Ganai, a youth who joined militant ranks only last week. “Investigation conducted so far have revealed that Khalid along with three of his associates had gone to Kamla forests to meet his brother Burhan, an active terrorist of Tral and his associates while they were having the meeting they saw the approaching Army patrol which lead to exchange of fire,” Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Javid Mujtaba Gilani said. “Today during search of the area, one more dead body was recovered. The deceased has been identified as Younis Ahmad Ganaie, an active terrorist of Tral”.
IGP Gilani said that the cause of death of Khalid would be ascertained only after the post mortem report comes in. “It (post mortem report) will take some days,” he said. But Wani say that no post mortem was conducted on his son’s body.
Army on Tuesday said that Khalid was a “listed over ground worker” and he had taken his three friends to get them recruited with militants.
In Tral, thousands of men and women took to streets on Tuesday to participate in the funeral of Khalid and Ganaie. The protestors clashed with police and paramilitary forces and snatched a rifle from paramilitary force personnel. The protestors threw stones at police which fired dozens of tear smoke shells to disperse them. More than a dozen protestors were injured in the clashes.