‘Rayees was not a militant: Family’
Anantnag/Islamabad, July 18:Family members of Rayees Ahmed Bhat have refuted police claim that he was associated with Lashkar-e-Toiba, maintaining that he has never been arrested in any militancy related case.
Rayees was killed along with two Lashkar militants in a brief encounter at Sheikhpora locality of Bulbul Nowgam Brakpora area in Anantnag district last night. Earlier, army had identified other two militants as Showkat Lohar of Arwani Anantnag and Mudasir Ahmed Hajam of Kokernag Anantnag. Army had further claimed that the third killed militant was a Pakistani national, who was later identified as a local of Hakura Badasgam village of Anantnag district.
“He was a civilian who earned his livelihood by running a grocery shop at Peer Mohalla, Pehru for last several years. We had migrated to Pehru in 2013. Yesterday after Maghrib prayers Rayees had gone to our ancestral place in Hakura Badasgam to drop his parents in a Maruti 800 car bearing registration number JK02M 3240 as our maternal uncle had died an hour ago,” said Rayees’s elder brother, Arif Ahmed, an advocate by profession.
“I called him around 8:50 pm and asked him to come back to home as I had to leave for some urgent work. I called him twice once he headed towards home and during our conversation he told me that he heard some gunshots nearby while he was driving. I said army men might be conducting firing drill in the High Ground camp. This is the last time I heard of him as his phone was switched off after this,” Arif added.
The family claims that he was not involved in any militancy related activities and if that would have been the case then police might have called him up for questioning before.
“Avoiding a rivulet, he took another route through Brakpora to reach his home at Pehru Anantnag. Had he been associated with the militants, police would have raided his house much before. Who knows that militants might have taken him along on gunpoint last night. In many cases army too has taken local Kashmiri drivers along with them. Police should have asked them to alight and questioned rather than firing on them indiscriminately. They should have at least tried to find out if there was any civilian in the car,” said an uncle of Rayees.
“His father, Nazir Ahmed Bhat, has served in Kashmir police’s armed wing. We do not believe the police version that Rayees was in involved in militancy,” he added.
Rayees’s family came to know about his killing in the night when they started looking for him after his phone was continuously switched off.
“We went to look for him in the district hospital Anantnag and then to Sadder police station Anantnag where from we were sent to SOG camp for identification of couple of local and one foreign militant. There I pointed out the body of my brother whom the police were referring to as the Paksitani national,” said his brother.
However, a top police official on the condition of anonymity said, “Rayees had developed contacts with LeT during his detention in a jail where he had been lodged for a murder case some two years ago. It is obvious that a normal person would not transport militants from one place to another for nothing. He had been associated with the outfit since more than a year now. We recovered a pistol from his possession”.
Rayees was laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard at Hakura village of Anantnag district.

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