world
Monday Nov 22 2021
By
Web Desk

India refusing to hand over bodies of Kashmiris to families, burying them in secret

By
Web Desk
India refusing to hand over bodies of Kashmiris to families, burying them in secret

Last year, 20-year-old Junaid Rashid, a former college student, was killed in a shoot-out with the Indian military in the Shopian district in Indian Occupied Kashmir was buried in Handwara, a town day-drive away from his town.

Junaid’s father Abdul Rashid Wani, who was recently interviewed by Israeli publication Haaretz, said he has no idea when and how Junaid joined the alleged militant group.

“We tried our best to force him to return home,” Wani said while talking to the media.

According to reports, while Wani was persuading his son to return home, he received a phone call from the government authorities telling him that his son has been killed and that he will be buried in Handwara.

However, Wani told the media that even though he was briefly shown Junaid’s body in Srinagar, he could never muster the courage to visit his son’s grave.

Ever since April 2020, in the wake of the COVID-19 wave in the region, the Indian government has stopped handing over bodies of Kashmiris — whom the government claims are militants — to their families and buries them in isolated areas away from their hometowns.

In 2020 alone, more than 140 Kashmiris were buried in the far-flung locations, mostly in northern Kashmir. In 2021, more than 100 militants have been buried in these locations.

Earlier, the funeral processions of the Kashmiri citizens were allowed to proceed to their villages and towns, as the bodies were buried in neighbourhood graveyards. However, as the funeral processions started attracting large crowds, they were also seen as radicalisation sites by the occupying Indian force.

The Indian law enforcement bodies deem halting of funerals as a strategic success as they believe it helps “stop glamorising terrorists and avoid potential law and order problems"

Using bodies of the dead as leverage to coerce families and communities is not a new tactic. State authorities and non-state actors in countries such as Israel, Lebanon and Turkey have been known to withhold bodies from families and relatives on different pretexts.

However, by Indian standards, this is a new tactic by the occupying forces, who seem to be always looking for new and ever more brutal ways to subjugate the local Muslim population in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

The new policy has gathered some opposition from the people of Kashmir; earlier this year, the hashtag #ReturnTheBodies trended on social media.