Press Trust of india

Villagers plead to militants to release minor held captive

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Srinagar, Mar 22: This is not "jihad" (armed crusade) but "jahalat" (ignorance), a village elder pleaded to Pakistani militants in north Kashmir's Hajin area while asking them to release a 12-year-old boy who was allegedly held captive by them and subsequently killed on Thursday.

Videos of the village elder of Mir Mohalla of Hajin surfaced on social media, showing him asking the two Lashker-e-Taiba militants, Ali alias Furkan and Hubaib, to release 12-years-old Atif Mir.

The incident took place 33 km north of Srinagar where the militants had taken shelter in the boy's house “at gunpoint”, police officials said on Friday.

The militants “wanted to sexually abuse his sister but the family had helped her escape. This infuriated them and they started beating up the family members, including Atif and his old uncle Hameed Mir,” police said.

“Hearing their cries, other people in the locality informed the police.”

After assessing the situation, the police started rescuing the family. Police managed to secure the release of the parents and other family members till they were fired upon by the holed up militants, police said.

"We knew that the boy and uncle were trapped inside and, so, we asked the villagers to appeal to the militants to release them," a senior police official said.

Speaking in Kashmiri, the village head was the first to ask the militants to release the innocent boy. "Do whatever you want, but this is not ‘Jihad’ but ‘Jahalat’. Please release the boy," he said.

The police also made an appeal through Aqeqa Begum, the wife of Hameed, who was virtually breathless as she asked the militants to release her husband and nephew.

Simultaneously, the police made a room intervention and brought Hameed out of the house. He told them that he was assaulted by the militants who hit him with iron rods and an AK rifle.

"I tried my best to get my nephew out of this. I begged them but they remained unmoved," Hameed told the police.

As pressure mounted on the militants, “they killed the helpless Atif,” the police said, adding that the government forces later mounted a heightened operation and killed both the Pakistani militants.

“Ali had been active in the area for long and was involved in the killing of a BSF personnel and others, including death of a man whose throat was slit in front of his son,” police said.

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