After 20 months, Magray family visits slain son’s grave in Kupwara

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After a protracted legal battle, the Magray family of Ramban district visited the grave of their slain son Amir Magray in north Kashmir’s Kupwara and offered special prayers.

Magray was among four people killed in Hyderpora on the outskirts of Srinagar on 15 November  2021. Police had claimed that they were militants and buried their bodies in a graveyard in Kupwara.

His father Mohammad Latief said the family feels relieved after offering prayers at the grave of their son.

A compensation of Rs 5 lakh, handed over to the family from the Jammu and Kashmir administration, was termed by Lateif as washing away the “blot of terrorism” on his head.

Latief, his wife and eight other relatives performed ‘Fateh Khawani (special prayers)’ at the grave in the Wadoora village of the Handwara belt in north Kashmir on Sunday.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police in 2020 decided that it would not hand over the bodies of “terrorists” to family members and instead bury them at different places to avoid a law-and-order situation.

However, after a public outcry about the veracity of the Hyderpora encounter, the Jammu and Kashmir administration buckled and exhumed the bodies of two — Altaf Ahmad Bhat and Dr Mudasir Gul — and handed those over to their families.

Latief was, however, refused Magray’s body following which he approached Jammu and Kashmir High Court and got relief when a single-bench judge in May 2022 ordered the exhumation of the body and handing it over to the family for last rites, along with a compensation of Rs 5 lakh.

The court, however, said if the body is “highly putrefied and is not in deliverable state or is likely to pose risk to public health and hygiene, the petitioner and his close relatives shall be allowed to perform last rites as per their tradition and religious beliefs in the graveyard itself”.

“In that situation, the state shall pay to the petitioner (Latief) a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for deprivation of his right to have the dead body of his son and give him a decent burial as per the family traditions, religious obligations and faith which the deceased professed when he was alive,” the order said.

A division bench of the high court later modified the judgment, restricting the family to performing the rituals and directing the Jammu and Kashmir administration to pay the compensation.

Latief later filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court.

However, the top court upheld the decision of the division bench of the high court, saying, “It will be too much at this stage to disinter the body and the dead should not be disturbed and some sanctity should be attached to the grave.”

“We visited the grave of our son on Sunday after being facilitated by the police. The compensation amount of Rs 5 lakh was deposited in my account on July 21. This clearly shows my son was innocent and not a terrorist,” Latief told PTI on the phone from his residence in Ramban’s Sangaldan.

He said they are now satisfied and thankful to the Supreme Court and the high court for upholding justice.

A state bravery award winner for killing a militant in his village with stones at the peak of militancy some two decades ago, Latief said the police had made all arrangements for the ‘Fateh Khawani’ at the grave for him and his family.

Latief’s lawyer Deepika Pushkar Nath took to Twitter to express her happiness over the family finally performing the post-death rituals at the grave of their son. (PTI)

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