Family members of the youths killed in Lawaypora encounter during a protest in Srinagar on Monday.(Waseem Andrabi/HT)
Family members of the youths killed in Lawaypora encounter during a protest in Srinagar on Monday.(Waseem Andrabi/HT)

Srinagar encounter: Slain youths’ kin stage protest, demand bodies, fair probe

While the army and police have maintained that they were militants, the youths’ families have vouched for their innocence.
Hindustan Times, Srinagar | By Ashiq Hussain
UPDATED ON JAN 05, 2021 04:08 AM IST

The families of two of three youths who were killed in an encounter with security forces on December 30 protested in Srinagar on Monday demanding their bodies and impartial investigation into the matter.

While the army and police have maintained that they were militants, the youths’ families have vouched for their innocence.

The police also released purported videos of the cordoned house where the trio – Zubair Ahmad of Turkawangam, Shopian; Ajaz Maqbool and Athar Mushtaq of Putrigam, Pulwama – was killed in Hokersar-Lawaypora, Srinagar. The security forced had claimed that the youths were repeatedly asked to surrender on the night of December 29 and December 30 morning.

Athar and Zubair’s family members converged at Press Colony here carrying banners “Stop innocents killings” and “We want complete investigation”. The protestors, including elderly and women, shouted slogans demanding justice.

“He had bullets in his chest. The mothers and sisters of soldiers congratulated them for shooting terrorists, but he was just a 16-year-old child,” wailed Mushtaq Ahmad, Athar’s father.

“Are the soldiers happy snatching a piece of my heart? You (security forces) killed my son to feed your children. Shame on you,” he said.

While the police and army have said the trio were killed in exchange of fire, their families have rebutted the claim saying they were civilians. Athar was a Class 11 student, Aijaz was pursuing graduation while Zubair was a skilled worker, according to their families.

Mushtaq said he wanted justice. “I don’t want money. I just want the body of my son,” he said.

“He lies buried there in the snow (in Ganderbal). Whom should I tell? Aren’t people of India listening? I want to tell people of the world that I want justice. I want my son, he is just 16. Either give me my son or bury me there,” he demanded.

As part of the protocol, the authorities have been burying the bodies of militants far away from their homes only allowing a few family members to be part of the burial arranged by police. The trio killed on December 30 was taken to Ganderbal, some 110 km from Pulwama, for burial.

Police release videos of surrender appeal

The police on Monday released two videos of the surrounded house purportedly showing forces asking those inside to surrender. “On 29/12/20 evening after the cordon at Hokersar, troops are repeatedly appealing the trapped terrorists to come out and surrender with assurances that they will not be harmed,” Kashmir police said in a tweet.

“At Hokersar on 30/12/2020 in the morning hours, troops are once again appealing the trapped terrorists to come out in the ground and surrender before them,” it said in another tweet with a video.

Politicos seek speedy investigation

Meanwhile, political parties in Kashmir have asked for probe into the encounter after families’ claims.

National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah on Monday asked L-G Manoj Sinha to hand over the bodies. “The L-G has promised a fair and speedy probe in to this encounter when JKNC Lok Sabha member Hansain Masoodi spoke to him about it recently. In the interim, we hope the L-G will order the handing over of the bodies to the families,” he said in a tweet.

However, police have said that as per their checks Aijaz and Athar were overground workers (OGWs) of militants.

“Background checks also reveal that Aijaz and Athar, both OGWs variously provided logistic support to terrorists. Antecedents and verifications too show that both were radically inclined and had aided terrorists of LeT (now so-called TRF) outfit,” police have said in a statement.

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