Army, cops begin separate probe into Shopian ‘encounter’
Both the Army and police are probing the claims of families from Rajouri that those killed were their wards who had gone to Shopian to work as labourers.
Srinagar: After reactions in the social media and from political parties about the alleged fake encounter in Shopian on 18 July, both the army and police have started separate investigations into the claims of families from Rajouri that those killed were their wards who had gone to Shopian to work as labourers in the apple orchards.
Cutting across party lines, all mainstream political parties, including the local Congress unit, have demanded a time-bound judicial probe into the alleged encounter at Shopian by the RR unit of army on 18July. The government has also decided to probe and police has already started investigation after the families of three young labourers from Rajouri, said that they recognised the photographs of their wards as police released them after the encounter to be dreaded terrorists.
Inspector General of Police Kashmir range, Vijay Kumar, told the media that they have already dispatched a team headed by Deputy SP rank officer to Rajouri district of Jammu to complete all the formalities for the investigation. Police have taken the DNA samples from all the three families as they will match them with the DNA samples already collected from the bodies of the “slain terrorists”. Senior police officer told this newspaper on Friday that after matching the samples, they will take the investigation further and have started working on the call records of all the three “slain terrorists”.
IGP Vijay Kumar said that police were working on two aspects of this case. “First, they will cross-examine the DNA samples of the slain with the families claiming them as their wards and to check their call details to find out whether they were in touch with the terrorists,” IGP Kashmir told the media.
Families of the three missing youths, one only 16 years old, have lodged a missing report with police and said that their wards have gone missing from 18July as they were working as daily wage workers in the orchards of Ashmipora, Shopian, where the army said that they had killed three terrorists. After a lot of reactions on social media about the alleged fake encounter, army spokesman said that they have taken the complaint seriously and were investigating the matter. The Amnesty International, while expressing concern over the alleged fake encounter, has demanded an independent and transparent probe into it. Family members of the missing youths from Rajouri have already applied to the authorities seeking permission to travel to Kashmir valley for the exhumation of bodies for identification. During the pandemic, security forces and army, along with local police, have been doing the burial of slain terrorists on their own at unidentified places.
From her mother’s Twitter handle, Iltija Mufti, daughter of Mehbooba Mufti, said that it was the policy and pattern of the government of India to kill innocent youths in Kashmir in the name of militancy and decompose their bodies at unknown places.
It all started on 10 August, when some local youths uploaded pictures of three youths lying dead on a road at Mirzapur in Shopian. These pictures went viral and immediately their family members claimed that they were their missing wards.
On 18 July, security forces had issued a statement that in an encounter, they had killed three dreaded terrorists without giving any further details. Police have identified the missing youths as 16-year-old Ibrar Ahmad, 25-year-old Imtiyaz Ahmad and 20-year-old Abrar Ahmed, who were living at a rented room in a Shopian village and their families have claimed that they lost contact with them from the evening 17July.
J&K Police in their dossier have said that they killed “three unidentified terrorists” during the search operation on 18July at Ashmipora village of Shopian in South Kashmir.
All political parties have demanded a time-bound judicial probe into this alleged fake encounter and PDP has demanded a probe into all encounters in the recent past as they claimed that bodies were not being given, raising suspicion among the families too about such gunfights. It is in place to mention that a fake encounter at Machil in Kupwara of North Kashmir triggered unrest in 2010and even after assurances, such incidents recur in Kashmir. The latest alleged encounter has shocked common people in Kashmir and in the adjoining areas of Jammu.
Locals of the village told visiting media teams that these three youths from Rajouri were living in a rented room. Fareeda, who had rented the room, said that she saw their pictures on social media as dead persons and was shocked. According to locals, the rented room of these three youths was only a few yards from the camp of 62 RR which carried out the encounter on 18 July along with security forces and police.