The family of the Srinagar youth, who was killed in a shootout in a state-owned bus in Kud town of Jammu, on Monday, contested the claims of the government and the police that he belonged to a militant group. The circumstances under which the incident took place has raised eyebrows on the authenticity of the encounter in which a woman was also killed and two others injured.
Clashes and protests were reported from 31-year-old Tanveer Sultan’s hometown in Bemina since Tuesday morning with his family demanding Tanvir's body be handed over for the last rites. Police resorted to teargas shelling to quell protesters, who had blocked the road in the area throughout the day.
“We met the superintendent of police and asked him for the body, but he said that the vehicle carrying the body is yet to cross Jawahar Tunnel. He made the same excuse in the afternoon. We don’t believe him,” Tanvir’s brother Arshid Sultan told the media.
“They want us to hold the funeral silently in the dark, which is unacceptable,” he said.
The family claimed that Tanveer was a psychiatric patient and was on medication. “He suffered from bipolar disorder and was under medication for a long time,” his family members said.
Arshid informed that he had fractured his shoulder recently and wanted to go to Amritsar for treatment. “He left with a small bag that had his medical records, I wonder how he could have carried an AK-47 and other weapons in that bag. Tanveer was living with his family. Which militant lives in his own house?” Arshid asked.
The police, however, said that Tanveer “opened fire on CRPF camp near Kud in Udhampur town of Jammu and in retaliation he was killed.” The government in the state Assembly said that Tanveer was a militant and an AK-47 rifle, a pistol and other ammunition were recovered from him. Contesting these claims, the family pointed out that how could anyone carry so many firearms in a small bag all the way from Srinagar without rousing any suspicion in the bus.
The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, on Tuesday, was in uproar over the issue with the lawmakers slamming the government and asking them to reveal the circumstances under which Tanveer Sultan was killed.
Ruling party MLA Noor Mohammad raked up the issue during the Question Hour in the Assembly and asked the government to furnish details of the encounter.
“The government should inform the House about the truth behind Tanveer’s killing,” he said.
Senior National Conference leader, Ali Mohammad Sagar, asked the government to clarify the truth behind the encounter. “I also come from Bemina and there was heavy stone pelting going on. What is the truth?” he asked.
Under pressure, the two statements issued by the government in both the Houses of the Assembly didn’t clarify the name of the militant group with which Tanveer was suspected to be association with. Also, the government didn’t mention about the attack on the CRPF camp as claimed by the police.
“The CRPF and police started searching vehicles at Karnal Nallah Kud and an SRTC bus (JK02Y 0444) was stopped. All the passengers were asked to alight from the bus for checking, when a person, who was also travelling in the bus, started firing at the CRPF and police personnel,” said Minister of Agriculture Ghulam Nabi Hanjura in the Assembly.
Meanwhile, no militant group has issued any statement about the youth’s association with them. However, Tanveer has served nearly a year in jail for his affiliation with Lashkar-e-Toiba in 2004 and his brother, Gowhar Sultan, associated with Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen, was killed in an encounter with forces many years ago.
Senior Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Geelani, termed the Udhampur incident as “mysterious and doubtful” and demanded that the issue be investigated by an independent agency.