Srinagar, August 29
The J&K police on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it was not feasible to hand over the bodies of people, killed by security forces in encounters, to their families as it would open the floodgates of similar litigations.
Even the J&K administration said that handing over of bodies to families could lead to law and order issues.
On November 15, Amir Magray, along with two civilians—Altaf Bhat and Mudasir Gul—and a militant were killed in an encounter at Hyderpora locality in Srinagar. Their bodies were buried in Zachaldara Wudar in Handwara, nearly 100 km away from Srinagar, triggering protests and forcing authorities for the first time to return the bodies of Bhat and Gul. Magray’s father Muhammad Lateef filed a petition to seek his body. Lateef claimed Magray was innocent, but according to the police, he was a militant.
A Bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala, after hearing all parties, reserved judgment in the case. J&K counsel Ardhendumauli Prasad argued before the court, “...there are many terrorists being encountered. If this (returning of bodies) is allowed, the high court will be filled with similar prayers seeking to perform last rites.”
“As far as the state is concerned, he (Amir) was a terrorist. It is not in dispute that there are certainly such people who have been buried and they are purposely not buried in native places for the reason that it takes into account the glorification...young minds are swayed..the terrorists sneak in and they say very good things and the younger minds are drawn into terrorism. That is the reason why the state consciously does not bury them in the same town or in the same village,” Prasad said.
Since April 2020, the police have not handed over the bodies of militants and civilians killed in anti-militancy operations in Kashmir to their families, citing Covid restrictions. They are instead buried in remote graveyards in border areas.
In 2020, at least 158 people, mostly militants, were buried in these locations, while last year, nearly 180 bodies were buried.
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