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Kashmir: Body of slain 'militant' exhumed, handed over to relatives

April 17, 2010 22:50 IST

The controversy triggered by the killing of a 70-year-old 'militant' by the army on April 14 in north Kashmir's Kupwara district took a new turn on Saturday, after the district magistrate ordered the exhumation of the slain person's body.

On Wednesday, a defence spokesman had said in a press statement said that 'a militant was killed in an encounter with the counter-insurgency Rashtriya Rifles troops and the local police in Rainawari forest area near Handwara'.

The army also said that 'one AK-47 rifle, four magazines and 67 rounds were recovered from the slain terrorist'.

The body of the 'militant' was later handed over to the police for burial.

The police had released a photograph of the slain militant to the local media, and three days later a family from Devar Lolab in the same district identified him as Habibullah Khan, the head of their family.

Raj Mohammad Khan, the son of the slain person, approached the police, claiming that  Habibullah Khan was a village beggar who used to return home after seeking alms for four to six days.

"When my father did not return this time, I became anxious. Next day, I recognised the photograph of my father in a local newspaper," Raj said.

Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel J S Brar told reporters, "The deceased had been exploited by a group of terrorists, either as a human shield or as a guide, and the arms and ammunition recovered were possibly dropped by the fleeing terrorists'.

"Police investigations are in progress to ascertain the identity of the killed individual," he said.

But Kupwara District Magistrate Showkat Ahmad Mir told rediff.com, "The body was exhumed after verification and was handed over to the next of kin."

The body of Khan was later buried by his relatives after observing the due religious rituals.

Thousands of people, shouting anti-government slogans, joined the funeral procession of Khan in Devar Lolab.

Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
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