Hyderpora encounter: Mehbooba says her stir against killing of innocents in name of militancy
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday staged a protest against the recent alleged civilian killings by the security forces and demanded that the bodies of the deceased be handed over to their families.
Mufti said there had been no accountability for the killings of the innocents in the region ever since the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) had been in force.
Four people, including two civilians, were killed in a controversial gunfight by security forces on Monday evening during an anti-terror operation.
The PDP leader said she was protesting because the present regime killed civilians in the name of militancy. “Nobody knows if militants are being killed. Three civilians have been killed recently. The government refuses to hand over their bodies to the families despite the latter's demand,” she was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Police said Haider, a Pakistani terrorist, and his local associate Mohammad Amir, were killed along with two civilians - Altaf Bhat and Mudassir Gul - in the encounter in Hyderpora locality, where an illegal call centre and a terror hideout were allegedly being run.
Inspector general of police (Kashmir range) Vijay Kumar said Gul was an active associate of militants and was running the call centre on the premises owned by Bhat, who was killed in cross-firing with the terrorists.
He expressed regret over Bhat’s death but said he would be counted among the "harbourers" of militants.
Amir's father Latief Magray, a resident of Gool area of Ramban district, has refuted the official claim that his son was a militant.
Holding a placard that read “Stop killing us, probe Hyderpora killings, end impunity and handover bodies to families”, Mehbooba, along with party activists and leaders, staged a protest against these killings outside the party’s Gandhi Nagar headquarters.
A strong posse of policemen stopped the protesters from moving towards the main road.
“This cruel government is not even handing over the bodies after killing people. They (BJP) want to convert this nation of Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar into a country of Godse. What else can I say?” the PDP leader said.
Asked about the IGP’s claim of there being digital evidence against those killed, she said, “If they had prior evidence, why did police not arrest them, as they have been doing on a daily basis.”
“Whenever anybody gets killed in their firing, they dub him an overground worker, and that is wrong. Since the AFSPA has been in force, there has been no accountability and no one’s been answerable,” she said.
“They are innocent civilians and their families are being denied even the performing of their last rites,” she added.
Referring to a previous incident of fake encounter in which three youths were killed, she said the security agencies made the claim of having digital evidence even then, but the reality is that they have no evidence.
Three orchard labourers were killed in a staged encounter in Amshipora village of Shopian on July 18, 2020.
In another incident this January, Athar Mushtaq, a class 11 student, was killed along with two other youths in Lawaypora, Srinagar. Mushtaq’s father disputed the claim that his son was a militant and demanded an investigation into the matter.
Mehbooba is scheduled to return to Srinagar later in the day after completing her five-day tour of Jammu.
(With inputs from agencies)