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Call records: Handwara boy was to meet his girlfriend

When the Army shot at and killed 21-year-old Manzoor Ahmad Magray during a night ambush last week,it snuffed out both a life and a love.

Written by Muzamil Jaleel | Srinagar |
February 16, 2011 2:14:08 am

When the Army shot at and killed 21-year-old Manzoor Ahmad Magray during a night ambush last week,it snuffed out both a life and a love. Magray left behind a family that slept peacefully assuming he was doing the same in his room that night,and a young woman who kept waiting for a beloved who never turned up.

Magray died literally for his love — shot while on his nightly clandestine walk to the next village to meet her — and the records of their phone conversations are now part of the police investigation into his death.

The police have not spoken to the girl. They say it is not necessary. No one in the villages wants to talk openly about their love or Magray’s nocturnal walks. The story of their tragedy is circulating in whispers.

“Magray would have his dinner and then go to his room. His parents thought he was going to sleep,” a police officer told The Indian Express.

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“Instead,he would silently slip out and secretly walk three or four hundred metres to the neighbouring village. He was in love.”

Every night,the officer said,Magray would walk down a muddy road from his Gund Chowgal village in Handwara,and cross a bridge to reach Chogal village on the Kupwara highway,where the girl lives. That night — February 4 —the Army had set up an ambush behind trees and bushes,and Magray fell before he had crossed the bridge.

Earlier that day,he had bought some clothes and a new cellphone handset. The handset could not be traced,but the police tracked down his number. They scanned his call details,and discovered his secret.

“Magray had called her that night,” said the officer. “They spoke for 1,400 seconds,or about 23 minutes. We have identified the girl,but how does that matter? He was innocent,totally innocent.”

The explosions that killed him were heard at around 10.45 pm,the officer said. By the time the police were called in,Magray was dead.

Army Chief Gen. V K Singh recently said Magray was asked to stop,but he ran and was hit in the foot,and may have died of shock. But the police say he had two wounds,a large wound in his leg and a smaller one on his back. Responding to a question on Gen. Singh’s claim,Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted this afternoon,“I’m not disparaging anything. I’m just saying that a bullet wound to the foot weren’t the only injuries,thats all.”

The family did not allow an autopsy. The medical report,based on an examination of the body,said,“There is splinter injury on the back with blood oozing from that side and a gunshot injury on right foot… There is obvious massive injury to the vital organs as well. There has been excessive bleeding and later cardio-respiratory arrest which caused the death.”

A senior police officer in Handwara district told The Indian Express that they had been contacted by the Army at around 2.30 am that night.

“They (the Army) told us that a militant has fallen near the bridge. They wanted us to come there. We went soon after first light,taking some civilians along. We found his election identity card,and concluded that he was a civilian who had nothing to do with militancy,” the officer said.

Sources said the Army fired at Magray and then threw a flash-bang grenade to stun him. The grenade exploded very close,and may have triggered the wounded man’s cardiac arrest.

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