Video of Shareefa Bano, mother of 11-year old, minor boy Aatif Ahmad, pleading militants to release her son, who according to police, was held “hostage” by the militants during an encounter here, 33 kms from Srinagar, sent shockwaves across Kashmir.
Shareefa Bano stood near an army van, as soldier handed a microphone to her. “Please let my son go. He is innocent. For Allah’s sake, for Prophet Muhammad (SAW) sake set him free. I used to feed you people. Have some mercy,” Shareefa is heard saying in the video, but no response came from the other side.
Another video featuring minor child’s uncle also went viral in Kashmir. He also was seen holding a microphone and appealing militants to release Atif. “Please release him. Then do whatever you want to do. Jihad or jahalat,” he is heard as saying in the video.
The gunfight broke out on Thursday evening after forces cordoned off a village in Hajin and launched searches but it continued till Friday due to minor boy being held “captive.”
“In this encounter we initially rescued six civilians who were trapped inside the house. After that we came to know that two more civilians were inside who had been taken hostage by the militants,” Senior Superintendent of Police Bandipora Rahul Malik told reporters.
Malik said the forces tried several ways to rescue the hostages, like involving the local Auqaf committee members who made announcements appealing militants to release the two civilians. “But the militants again opened fire and in that process we managed to get uncle of minor boy rescued. We later involved the magistrate to make appeal to the militants to release the minor boy but the efforts couldn’t fructify,” Malik said.
He said “when the firing intensified from the other side”, the forces “also retaliated and in the action two militants were killed”.
Malik claimed that the minor boy was being held hostage by the militant Ali and he (Ali) killed the minor “before our team stormed the building for final assault,” he said.
Ali’s killing evoked outrage, with locals, separatists, mainstream politicians and netizens condemning it.
Hajin town on Saturday observed complete shutdown to mourn the minor’s killing.
Condemning the killing of a minor boy in Hajin gunfight, Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the manner in which the boy lost his life was heart-wrenching. “Condemn and deeply saddened at the killing of 11-year old Atif in Hajin. It is heart wrenching that the young child was lost in such a manner. My heartfelt sympathies with the bereaved family and dua for jannah for the innocent soul,” Mirwaiz wrote on Twitter.
CPI (M) leader and former MLA Kulgam, M Y Tarigami in a statement said that “making civilians as human shields by combatants is an act of cowardice and must be condemned by all in one voice. The brutal incident has deeply shaken entire Kashmir.”
“He asked why did the militants held a minor boy hostage? What was his sin? Reportedly the militants didn’t allow the boy to go out and they killed him before the security forces stormed the building. A 11-year-old innocent boy didn’t deserve to die this way. The family of the victim will have to bear a lifelong pain,” he said. “I express my heartfelt condolences to the victim family,” Tarigami added.
President of Awami Ithad Party and former MLA Langate Er Rasheed said that “precious life of Aatif Ahmad could have been saved had both the sides shown some restrain. While militants are morally bound not to use anyone as human shield but the state forces could have saved the precious life of Aatif Ahmad who had nothing to do with what was happening.”