The army has ordered a probe into the disappearance of three civilians in the Valley’s border district of Kupwara, amid fears that the case could be another fake encounter by army personnel for winning awards.
The families of Ghulam Jeelani Khatana, 42, Mir Hussain Khatana, 45, and Ali Muhammad Sheikh, 40, who are missing since November, have blamed a territorial army man, Manzoor Ahmed Khwaja, for the disappearances. Khwaja has already been arrested by the local police.
Lt Gen Satish Dua, the General officer Commanding (GoC) of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, said: “Our investigations are on, and if anybody from the army is found involved, action will be taken.”
Dua, who was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event in Srinagar, said the army was “committed to zero tolerance on human rights violations” in the strife torn state.
The families of the missing men have told a local court that Khwaja had taken them away on November 17. The families alleged that Khwaja would often visit their homes and promise the missing men jobs as porters in the army.
Ever since the case came to fore, local news reports quoting anonymous police officials have been alleging that the three missing men might have crossed over to Pakistan-administered Kashmir to work as spies for the security agencies.
Valley residents, however, fear that the three men might be killed in a fake encounter by army personnel and be dubbed as foreign militants to win awards. The fears stem from the infamous Macchil encounter of 2010, in which three civilians were killed in a staged encounter after being lured with jobs as porters.
The six army personnel, including a colonel, who were found guilty of the killings were sentenced to life by the army in 2013.