‘Don’t surrender at all’, mother tells militant son ‘trapped’ in a gunfight

Srinagar: The recording of a phone call between 16-year-old Zahid Ahmad Mir, one of five militants killed last Saturday in Kulgam, and his family including mother has gone viral on social networking sites.

During the over-nine-minute-call the family members of the militant are repeatedly heard telling the son not to surrender and continue fighting the (forces).

“What do you think?” asks the mother. Zahid tells her: “We think we have to fight, Inshallah.” She then tells him: “May Allah give you courage, power and success… may god accept your martyrdom.”

He tells his mother to seek forgiveness from people at his funeral. “At my funeral, please ask people to forgive me. I would often appear for a gun salute (at funerals), and sometimes get emotionally charged,” he tells her. The mother replies “No, don’t worry, don’t they (people) know it?”

Zahid says the SP has been calling them to surrender. “No, no, why will you surrender? Tell him you will not surrender,” the mother says.

His parents live 15 km from Chowgam village, the site of the gunbattle. Police say all five militants were given a chance to surrender, but they refused.

The Indian Express quoting SSP Kulgam Harmeet Singh reported that the SSP had spoken to the militants and asked them to surrender: “Family members of the house owner were inside when the firing began. When I came to know that the family is trapped inside, I spoke to one of the members on the phone and then asked the militants to let the family come out,” Singh told The Indian Express.

He said he was told that all the militants were locals, and he asked them to surrender. “But they didn’t agree, and firing soon started from both sides,” Singh said.

Asked about the woman telling her son not to surrender, ADGP (Law & Order) Munir Khan told The Indian Express: “Even if the clip is authentic, it is only one case. In most cases, the families tell us to motivate their sons to surrender… (this is) a new strategy of militants to circulate such clips on social media.”

“Whenever we find local militants are present, our first preference is to offer them a chance to surrender. In several operations, we have even brought families to the encounter sites to motivate them. In some cases, we are successful, and in some cases we are not. There are different kinds of situations. It is not same all the time during encounters,” Khan said.

Zahid’s mother Haseena Bano told The Indian Express that her son called around 1 am Saturday. Zahid, the family said, was a 14-year-old, studying in Class X, when he left home two years go to join the Hizbul Mujahideen.

“My son was very young. When I spoke to him, I encouraged him to complete his ‘mission’. When he left home to join militancy, he was only 14 years old,” Haseena Bano said. “It was a tough call for me to tell him all those things, but I wanted him to complete his mission… I told him clearly: don’t surrender at all.”

Zahid’s father Bashir Ahmad Mir, a businessman, said Zahid did not fear death. “We encouraged him to fight and he was determined not to surrender. We told him to fight till the end,” he said.

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