A decomposed body was recovered from an orchard in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Wednesday morning. The body has been suspected to be of a 24-year-old territorial army (TA) soldier from Shopian who was allegedly killed by militants last August.

Manzoor Wagay said the body was of his son, Shakir Manzoor Wagay. He said he identified the body from his “hair and feet and the thick bracelet he wore that day.” Wagay said, “Losing a son is a huge pain, but he and his family can now get a closure.”

Mohanpora villagers found the body under a blue tarpaulin sheet and informed the police about it. The police said they are trying to corroborate the claim made by Wagay. “Not only me but the entire village says it is him that includes his friends and relatives. The police have said they will take samples (for DNA matching) and we can bury him as per our religious rites,” Wagay added.

An official told News 18 that they would like to ascertain facts and will “go for DNA sampling. The evidence is vital.”

Shakir, a rifleman with the 162 Battalion of Indian Army’s Territorial Army unit, had come home at Reshipora in Shopian to celebrate Eid with his family last year. He was driving home from where he was intercepted and abducted by militants. Police later recovered his burnt car but despite mounting searches for weeks could not find him. His father and locals tried to seek clues in several villages but could not trace him.

It is believed that the militants killed him and did not return the body to the Wagay family in retaliation as the police had a policy of not handing over the corpse of militants killed in encounters because their funeral processions would have attracted local youth to sign up for militancy. There have been instances in the past when local boys would announce joining the militancy on social media. But that phase is now passé as the youth now prefer to do so discreetly.

Wagay said he examined the body and it seemed it was not buried but was hidden. “It seems someone had brought the body near the village, which is barely 3km from my house, but who could it be, I have no idea,” he said.

He also said he would like the police to conclude the sampling quickly and “allow us to bury him”.