Kashmiri civilian Altaf Bhat used as human shield in Hyderpora encounter: claim family and Mehbooba Mufti

PDP chief, Mehbooba Mufti has alleged that businessman Altaf Bhat was used as a shield by security forces in the Hyderpora encounter.

Kashmir yet again witnessed another human shield incident purported by the army. PDP or People Democratic Party chief, Mehbooba Mufti, on November 16 has alleged that a civilian was used as a shield by security forces in the Hyderpora encounter on Monday.

The tweet featuring the daughter of the slain businessman in Hyderpora encounter

The encounter claimed the lives of two terrorists and a civilian, according to the Jammu and Kashmir police. The slain civilian was a businessman named Muhammad Altaf Bhat. In a tweet by a local journalist, Altaf’s daughter is saying that the police were laughing when she was asking about her father’s death in the encounter.

Altaf Bhat was used as a human shield

The claim was later confirmed by the niece of the deceased civilian in the Hyderpora encounter. While speaking to the local newspaper, The Kashmir Walla, over the phone, she said that her uncle was not associated with any militancy activities as per the police claims.

Her uncle, Altaf, used as a human shield in a staged encounter, actually runs a hardware shop and owns the complex where forces have conducted a search operation, The Kashmir Walla quoted the niece.

She further said that her uncle was taken thrice inside the building as a human shield. He was killed in the building. Now, police have denied handing over the body and calling Altaf Bhatt an overground worker or militant associate. The family members are protesting at Barazulla bridge.

Meanwhile, the IG of Kashmir Police, Vijay Kumar, has said that Altaf Bhat, the owner of the building where terrorists were hiding, was injured in a militant firing and later succumbed to his injuries. He claimed that the digital evidence has proved that the owner was associated with militants.

The official Kashmir zone police tweeted: “#SrinagarEncounterUpdate: The house owner who was injured in the terrorist fire succumbed to his injuries. #Terrorists have been hiding on the top floor of his building. As per source and digital evidence, he has been working as a #terror associate. Search is still going on: IGP Kashmir (sic).

According to the army personnel, the encounter was triggered by the terrorists.

Not the first time that humans are made human shields

It is not the first time a civilian was used as a human shield. In 2017, Major Leetul Gogoi had used a local embroidery artisan as a human shield. He tied the boy to the bonnet of his jeep and used him against the stone pelting in the Budgam district of Kashmir.

After this incident, he was shunned by his village men, who doubted him as a government agent. Instead of being questioned, Gogoi was awarded the chief of army staff’s commendation card for sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations, according to PTI reportage. But briefly, he was found guilty of disciplinary misconduct.

This incident made Dar, the artisan, thank almighty for punishing him. To date, a civilian in Kashmir has to wait for God to punish or question military barbarisms. The army is being deployed for more than two decades now in Kashmir. Still, the problem of militancy is far from being solved. Thus, despite putting in their best efforts, they haven’t been able to control the rising militancy. The main reason behind this is a strong and impending sense of deprivation in the minds of Kashmiris. If India wants peace in Kashmir, military encounters cannot guarantee it. Instead, they will claim civilian lives like Altaf Bhat and increase distrust against the Indian army officers in their minds. Understanding how India annexed Kashmir is necessary, or with time, the situation will become worse.

Sayantika Bhowal

Sayantika Bhowal is a news connoisseur who is particularly interested in politics and human interest stories. She holds More »
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