Valley News Desk

Srinagar Encounter: ‘Return the bodies’ demand grows louder

Irfan Yattoo

Srinagar, Jan 06: Social media platforms in Kashmir are abuzz with #ReturnTheBodies hashtag posts, a day after three families from south Kashmir staged a protest in the Press Enclave demanding mortal remains of their kins and fair investigation in HMT, Srinagar encounter.

Three youths – Aijaz Maqbool Ganai from Patrigam Pulwama, Zubair Lone from Turkawangam Shopian, , and Athar Mushtaq from Belou Pulwama – were killed in an encounter at Lawaypora in Srinagar on December 30.

Both Police and Army described the youth killed in the Srinagar encounter as ‘militants’ and ‘hardcore associates’.

So far the families have maintained that their boys were innocent and killed in a “staged encounter.”

Soon after the protest of families ended on Monday, social media was abuzz with #ReturnTheBodies posts.

More than 30,000 tweeted, over 25000 posts trended on Facebook and over 1200 hashtags appeared on Instagram.

Maximum social media users were of the view that bodies should be handed over to the families and fair investigation should be done in the encounter.

Syed Shahriyar, one of the users tweeted with a picture, ‘Somewhere in Kashmir a message written with snow #ReturnTheBodies #Srinagar #Kashmir.

Another user Akash Hassan, tweeted #ReturnTheBodies is trending in #Kashmir after the parents of three youth contested the army claim that their sons killed in an ‘encounter’ were militants and demanded the return of their bodies. The trio were buried in Sonamarg.(sic).

Rifat Jawaid wrote that the hashtag #ReturnTheBodies is indeed a very powerful protest.

Tabeenah Anjum another user tweeted that amidst snow, protests were held outside the Press enclave, where families of the three youth who were earlier killed in an encounter in Srinagar, demanded the return of bodies of the deceased & requested for a fair probe. #ReturnTheBodies

Apart from tweets, the photographs of protesting families were shared by people, demanding fair probe and time-bound investigation in the case.

Another user Sarah Hayat Shah on her Facebook post questioned the administration for not returning the bodies of the slain youth.

“Insaniyat? Jhamuriyat? Why won’t you return the bodies? What sense does it make? This is the strategy that will win the hearts of the people of J&K? NO. Your criminal silence is condemnable. #ReturnTheBodies #Hokarsar (sic), she said.

On Facebook, Owais Nanda, a user wrote ‘ A civilised nation, even if in the state of war, return the dead. A democratic nation follows the rule of law and investigates fake encounters and punishes delinquent functionaries.

“Remember the constitution and currency beards the hologram of Gandhi, not Hitler,” Nanda wrote in his post.

While users on Instagram shared photographs of walls, snow-covered cars and other things where“return the bodies” was cast with snowflakes.

The Jammu and Kashmir police on Monday released two video clips on their official Twitter handle in which army troopers can be heard making surrender offers at the Srinagar encounter site.

In multiple tweets, police stated that militants were given the opportunity for surrender “but they refused”.

Following the encounter on Dec 30, Police claimed that a background check revealed that slain Aijaz Lone and Ather Mushtaq were OGWs and had provided logistic support to militants.

“Past history and verifications revealed that both were radically inclined and had aided militants of the Lashkar outfit,” police said.

“While Athar Mushtaq was relative and OGW of Hizb’s top commander Rayees Kachroo killed 2017,” police claimed.

Police also claimed that digital evidence had been verified including records of the telecom department that Zubair Ahmad Lone, one of the trio had gone first to Pulwama.

“From there, he went to Anantnag, Shopian and then to Pulwama and finally came to a place of occurrence,’ it said.

“Both Aijaz Maqbool Ganai and Athar Wani had gone to Hyderpora and then moved to the incident spot,” the police spokesman said.(RK)

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