An unknown ‘militant’ showed up in the local graveyard of Ratsuna in south Kashmir’s Tral during the burial of Hizbul Mujahideen’s Sabzar Ahmad Bhat on Sunday morning.
He did not have a gun but appeared to carry a grenade in a pouch. His appearance triggered commotion among the mourners in and outside the graveyard.
Locals said he escaped from the encounter on Saturday in which 29-year-old Sabzar and another teenaged militant Faizaan were killed. HT could not independently verify the claims of the locals.
People jostled to touch him and made way for him to reach the grave which was being dug for the slain militant.
Dressed in black, tears rolled down his face as people swarmed around him to touch his face and beard. Some even kissed him and at one moment people carried him on their shoulders.
Just when he reached the grave, he shouted loudly: Hum Kya Chahte (What do we want) and people responded with ‘Azadi’ in unison.
No one seemed sure about his name, though. ‘Adil’, ‘Shakir’ and ‘Azaan’ were the names bandied about. Eyewitnesses said that the militant had also addressed people on Saturday when they had gathered around Sabzar’s body. “We will take revenge,” he reportedly told the gathering.
Deputy inspector general of police, South Kashmir SP Pani and superintendent of police (SP) Awantipora (Tral) Mohammad Zaid were not available for comment.
The funeral prayer of Sabzar was scheduled at 11 am but was offered in an orchard near his home at Ratsuna at 9 am and then taken to the Martyrs’ Graveyard for burial.
Slain Hizbul commander Burhan Wani’s father Muzaffar Wani was among the thousands of mourners, including slogan-shouting women, who defied curfew to attend the funeral.
People continued coming till 12 in noon and funeral prayers in absentia were offered multiple times.
Unlike the May 7 incident when a group of militants fired a volley in the air in a gun salute to a slain militant in Kulgam, local said there was no such show at the funeral of Sabzar.
Locals also claimed that some other militants including Zakir Musa had also appeared to bid farewell to Sabzar on Saturday evening. The appearances of militants in the funerals of slain comrades are now becoming common in Kashmir.
MUSA BREAKS DOWN
Sabzar was laid to rest in the Martyrs Graveyard at Rathsun.
Last year tens of thousands of people—more than two lakh by one estimate—had attended the funeral of Burhan Wani, whose killing sparked months’ long protests across the Valley.