Earlier today, the Supreme Court rejected Mohammad Latief Magrey’s plea for the exhumation of the mortal remains of his son Aamir, whose dead body was buried by the Jammu and Kashmir administration without informing his family.
SRINAGAR: Sitting in one of the rooms of her mud house cluttered up with papers and worn out cloths in the placid Thatharka village, some 45 km from Jammu’s Ramban district, Madina began bawling her eyes out after hearing that the Supreme Court has rejected their plea to return the body of her slain son.
Her husband, Mohammad Latief Magrey, is struggling to comfort her, but to no avail.
There has been an unceasing mourning at Magrey’s house since his son Amir Latief Magrey was killed in a controversial encounter in Hyderpora, Srinagar last year.
“I want to see his body just once and bury him with my hands. Please request the Judge sahib to allow a mother to see her dead son”, said Madina, with words getting stuck in her throat.
As soon as social media burst forth with the news that the Supreme Court had rejected Magrey’s plea of returning the body of his son, he began feeling fidgety. For a couple of hours, he tried to hide the news from his ailing wife.
“But then I broke down and could not hold it back from her any more”, said Magrey.
Earlier today, a Supreme Court division bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and J.B. Pardiwala dismissed Magrey’s plea to return the body of his son, saying that the body, once buried, should not be disturbed ,and there was nothing to indicate that the body was not given a decent burial.
Child of a lesser God
Magrey’s son, along with two other persons, businessman Altaf Bhat and medical practitioner Dr. Mudasir Gul, were killed in an encounter on November 21, 2019. A foreign militant was also shot dead in the encounter.
The police interred the dead stealthily away from their homes. Although the bodies of Bhat and Gull were later exhumed and handed over to their families, following overnight protests by the families and relatives of the deceased, the government declined to return the body of Magrey.
“I am a poor man. I could not put a squeeze on the administration; that is why I was denied the body”, Magrey said.
He said that nobody listens to a poor man.
“The killing of our son has exacted a toll on my wife’s health. She has developed multiple ailments since then”, said Magrey.
After Magrey was denied his son’s body, he knocked at the door of the high court. On May 27, a single judge bench of the court ordered exhumation of the body of Aamir Magrey, and directed the local administration to make arrangements for ferrying the body to his native village.
The court had also ordered that the father and close relatives of the slain be allowed to perform the last rites at the graveyard as per their religious beliefs in case the body was highly putrefied.
In such a case, the state was also asked to pay five lakh rupees as compensation to the family of the slain for depriving them of the right of performing the last rites.
However, the administration challenged the order before a division bench of the high court, and got its execution stayed.
Later, on June 24, Magrey moved the Supreme Court, challenging the stay order.
Denial of bodies
The authorities began denying the bodies of militants killed in fire fights with security forces to their families soon after the world was caught in the throes of COVID- 19. As the militants’ funerals would attract huge crowds and spur street protests, the authorities decided to bury their bodies stealthily, away from their homes, in a bid to stave off the transmission of the virus.
However, even before the outbreak of COVID-19, the authorities in the Valley were seriously flirting with the idea of denying the bodies of militants to their families. They believed that the slain militants were being lionized at their funerals, attendedbythousandsofpeople.
The family says that if the body has decomposed, they at least should be allowed to rebury it as per their religious rituals.
“His mother wishes to see his mortal remains and bury him with her own hands”, said Magrey, adding that they want to offer fatiha.
He said that the government must give up its intransigent stance of denying them their religious and constitutional right.
“My son was killed in cold blood and is it not my right, as a citizen of this country, to give him a decent burial?”, asked Magrey.
Magray said that he did not understand how his dead son could be a threat, as the government argued, to the law and order situation.