Srinagar: There has been outrage in Kashmir Valley against militants taking a minor boy hostage during a gunfight with the security forces which led to his gruesome death early Friday.
On Thursday evening, the security forces laid siege to Hajin area of northern Bandipore district to flush out militants holed up inside a private house. During the faceoff, the militants took two civilians hostages apparently to outmanoeuvre the security forces’ operation.
The officials said that the local police and security forces who took part in the operation “safely rescued” one of the captives identified as 60-year-old Abdul Hameed with the assistance of local people. But the gunmen believed to be Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) cadres from Pakistan later identified as Ali and Hubaib refused to let the other- 12-year-old boy Aatif Ahmed Mir go despite repeated pleas of his mother and other local residents.
“The terrorists kept him hostage till the end and, despite repeated requests by community members and police for his release, he was brutally killed by them,” a police spokesman said.
The gruesome killing of Mir has evoked widespread anger in Hajin and elsewhere in the Valley. On Friday afternoon, thousands of mourners attended his funeral. The township and its neighbourhood remained shut on the second consecutive day on Saturday. Besides locals, the human rights activists, leaders of both mainstream and separatist parties, civil society groups and netizens have condemned it.
The witnesses to the faceoff said that an elderly local resident had tried to reason with the militants by telling them that it was jahalat (incomprehension) and not jihad (crusade) on their part if they did not let the boy go.