Boy killed in crossfire buried far from home
The body of a 14-year-old hearing and speech-impaired boy who was killed in purported crossfire during an anti-militancy operation in Kashmir was not handed over to the family citing Covid-19-related restrictions, and was instead buried in a faraway graveyard earmarked for unidentified terrorists in the presence of a handful of relatives.
None of Class VII student Hazim Shafi Bhat’s three sisters got the chance to bid him farewell when he was buried in the graveyard at Baramulla district neighbouring his native Kupwara on Tuesday.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration last month stopped handing over bodies of militants killed in gunfights after hundreds defied pandemic-induced restrictions to join the funeral of an insurgent.
But this is the first time the body of a civilian who died in a security force-militant clash was not returned to a grieving family.
Administrative officials claimed on the condition of anonymity that Hazim’s body was not handed over to his family as a precautionary measure in view of the lockdown. His family, however, said the security forces feared that such a move could end up triggering protests.
Hazim died in crossfire during a gun battle between militants and a joint team of CRPF and police personnel in Handwara area on Monday during which three jawans were killed, according to the police.
The boy’s uncle, Khazir Mohammad, contested this claim and said the family suspected that Hazim had been deliberately killed by the security forces.