February 2017 News

At Militant Hotbed, Kashmiris Throng Martyred Soldier's Funeral

24 February 2017
Times of India
M Saleem Pandit

Srinagar: Thousands of people joined the funeral service of Lance Naik Mohiuddin Rather at a mosque at Punchpora village in Anantnag district of south Kashmir on Friday - a sight rarely witnessed in chronicles of the valley's troubled past. Mohiuddin, 35, and two of his mates were killed in a militant ambush at Mulu Chitragam in Shopian district on Thursday when they were returning from an anti-terror operation near Kungnoo village. Two officers too were wounded in the attack. When the tricolor-draped body of Mohiuddin was brought in an Army vehicle to be handed over to his family members for the last rites, thousands of residents of Punchpora village poured out of their homes in a spontaneous gesture to pay their respects to the dead soldier and console the bereaved family. Many even came from other villages for the nimaz-i-janazah (last prayers), which took place in the presence of top Rashtriya Rifles officers. 'Mohiuddin has left behind his ailing parents, wife, and a two-year-old son, besides a sister whose wedding was fixed for next month,' Manzoor Ahmad Rather, Mohiuddin's friend, said. 'He was a kind person who helped people in times of need,' he said. A group of women were seen consoling his young weeping wife, Shahzada Akhtar, 26, and the soldier's unwell mother. Women from the nearby villages walked to the slain soldier's village Punchpora, around 55km from Srinagar, and were seen offering water to the young widow while others tried to cuddle her toddler son. As colleagues bid farewell to Mohiuddin, giving him a gun salute, many villagers couldn't control their tears. Recommended By Colombia The turnout astonished some seasoned Kashmir observers considering that south Kashmir villages are known to be militant hotbeds, particularly for the Hizbul Mujahideen. Neighbours said Mohiuddin never failed to send medicine for his parents every week. While his father, Ghulam Mohammad Rather, suffers from dementia, his mother was operated on for a tumour last year, friend Manzoor added. The soldier's mortal remains were sent to his village on Friday morning after a wreath-laying ceremony at 15 Corps headquarters in Srinagar by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat. Seeing the large response, the district administration made security arrangements to foil any untoward incident at the funeral, official sources said.

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