When 15 funeral prayers were not enough

Saddam’s mother offers gun salute again; people had come from Kupwara, Bandipora to pay tributes

Muddasir Ali
Shopian, Publish Date: May 8 2018 12:13AM | Updated Date: May 8 2018 12:13AM
When 15 funeral prayers were not enoughPhoto: Mir Wasim/GK

Rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the mourners who swarmed Heff village to have a last glimpse of the rebels killed in a gunfight with government forces on Sunday. 

By early Monday morning, as the rains intensified, the Eidgah was filled to its capacity. People jostled for the space—many young boys climbed poplar trees— so that they could offer funeral prayers to the deceased militants Saddam Paddar and Bilal Moulvi.

Such was the rush of people to the village that the families had to delay burial on Saturday, the day funerals prayers had already been offered 15 times. 

People had come from place as far off places as Kupwara and Bandipora. After five rounds of funerals and gun salutes, the slain militants were laid to rest in the local martyrs’ graveyard.

But not before 26-year old Saddam’s mother offered a gun salute to his son to bid him adieu, the second time in two days, with policeman-turned militant Syed Naveed by her side.

In his life, Saddam had grown among ranks to become one of the most wanted militants in Kashmir. He was one of the 11 rebels pictured with slain militant commander Burhan Wani in 2015, in an orchard somewhere in Shopian.

That is when he came in contact with another Hizb commander Waseem Malla. Once Burhan was killed, the duo would work together to revive militancy in Shopian.

He acted as a “trusted link” between Hizb and Lashkar-e-Toiaba and was close to top LeT commander master Irshad Ganai from Padgampora in Awantipora.

A school-drop out, Saddam belonged to an affluent family of apple farmers. 

“He had a great sense of humor that he carried even after joining rebel ranks,” said one of his friends from the village.

A police official said Saddam, who worked as an OGW for a “long time”, was finally inspired by his friend Waseem Shah alias Osama, a LeT militant, to take the plunge in 2014 post the devastating flood.

Shah had also featured in the group photo with Burhan and was the only LeT militant among the group of 11. Saddam featured in the first video released by Burhan in early 2015.

“Since 2016 Saddam’s restricted his operations to Shopian only,” said a police official.

His colleague from the village Bilal Moulvi, a former government employee, had joined up Hizb in late 2016, barely a few weeks after Burhan was killed.

Survived by his wife and two daughters, Moulvi had come home to see his parents and wife on Saturday night. Barely hours later, he was killed in the unfight with the forces, along with Saddam and three other militants including assistant professor Muhammad Rafi, in Badigam village of Shopian, on early Sunday morning. 

Recently his picture with one of his two daughters had gone viral on social media.

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