Hajin: On Thursday morning, security forces launched a search operation in Hajin town of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district. After searching the entire area, the security personnel surrounded a house in Mir Mohalla of the town.
Lashkar-e-Taiba commander alias Ali and his associate Hubaib were hiding in the three-story house, owned by Abdul Hamid Mir and Mohammad Shafi. they lived here with their families.
As forces lay siege around the house, eight family members were trapped inside. Though six members of the family came out of the house, two of them did not. Abdul Hamid, 60, and his nephew, 12-year-old Atif Hussain, were held hostage by the militants.
“When the forces surrounded our house, the militants, Atif and his uncle were in the second story. Before leaving I asked the militants to release them as forces were all around," Atif’s mother Shareefa Banu told News18. “But they asked me to leave. I thought they would release both of them after some time,” said Banu.
Atif's mother, Shareefa Banu, tried to appeal the militants to let go her lone son.
She came out, according to her, with her two daughters, sister-in-law and her two daughters.
The family pleaded with the forces not to fire until the Atif and his uncle come out safely. But to their surprise, they didn’t come out despite repeated appeals by the police to release them.
By evening, Mir came out safely telling his family that he escaped but Ali had kept Atif hostage.
“Repeated announcements were made from the mosque loudspeakers but the militants didn’t let the child go,” said Atif’s father, Mohammad Shafi. Shafi runs a pesticides shop in the town and was not home when the search operation was launched.
Desperate for her son’s safety, Banu frantically appealed the militants to release her son, video of which has been widely shared on social media. Breathless and trembling, Banu can be seen requesting the militants on a microphone.
“For the sake of God and the Prophet please leave them. I appeal you to leave him. We used to feed you. What wrong have we done to you?” she said.
Moments later, Ali, as per eyewitnesses, appeared on a window with Atif in front of him.
“I could see Atif close to his body. He had firmly clutched Ali’s arm,” said a neighbor, who lives in the house opposite to the Mir’s and was watching this.
Atif was a Class 6 student at the Army Goodwill School located in the town. He was planning to move to a boarding school.
“He had applied in Sainik School Manasbal and was supposed to appear in the entrance test after some days,” said his father.
In the night, the house was blasted and three charred bodies were recovered in the morning. One among them was 12-year-old Atif.
The family believes that Ali had kept him hostage so that he could escape taking his cover, but police said the militants killed him.
Aatif was kept hostage by the militants till the end and despite repeated requests by community members and police for his release, he was brutally killed by them and could not be rescued from the clutches of militants, police said in a statement.
The forces, as per eyewitnesses, blasted the house in the night and damaged it partially. Later, they said, in the morning another blast took place and the house collapsed.
The house where Atif was held hostage by militants and was later blasted by the security forces.
“Ali was a dreaded militant who was involved in a number of attacks and heinous crimes against the civilians,” Rahul Malik, Senior Superintendent of Police, Bandipora told News18. Police said both the militants were from Pakistan.
Ali had managed to escape from the number of gunfights and was active in the Hajin area for over two years.
Having lost their lone son, Atif’s family is shattered.
“He was innocent. We had fed the militants. They could have let him go. What harm had he caused to them?” Atif’s mother said wailing, surrounded by women with moist eyes.