Row intensifies over Srinagar encounter
Normal life was affected in parts of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday as shops and business establishments were closed to protest the killings of three alleged terrorists in an operation on the outskirts of Srinagar on Wednesday.
Police said mobile internet services have been suspended in Pulwama and Shopian districts to prevent any untoward incident. “The situation remained calm in the districts. There were no restrictions though the internet was suspended,” a police official said.
According to the police, army troops and men of Central Reserve Police Force and Jammu and Kashmir police launched a cordon-and-search operation in the Lawaypora area on Tuesday evening following a tip-off about the presence of terrorists in the area.
“The operation was launched last evening after getting inputs that terrorists were inside a house close to the national highway. They were asked to surrender. However, they responded with firing and the operation was suspended for the night and when it resumed again in the morning, they were again asked to surrender. However they started firing again and hurled grenades,” General Officer Commanding of the Kilo Force, H S Sahi, said on Wednesday. The three men were killed in retaliatory fire, he added.
However,families of the three slain men identified them as Zubair Ahmad of Turkawangam, Shopian; and Ajaz Maqbool and Athar Mushtaq of Putrigam, Pulwama. They said that the men were students and alleged that they were picked up and then killed by security forces.
Former Jammu Kashmir chief minister and People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti met the families of the three deceased and shared a letter by the family of Ajaz seeking his body and an inquiry into his death. “Met families of the young men killed in Lawaypora encounter. Forget justice, even their dead bodies are not being returned to them for the last rites. They have lost their beloved sons forever & in the midst of grief have to plead even for closure,” she posted on Twitter with copies of the letter.
“The deceased was not remotely connected with any anti national activities and the question of joining militancy does not arise…The killing is very brutal and calculated one which is against the law of land and also hits the democracy and Indian constitution,” the letter by the family stated.
The police have asserted that while the three were not mentioned in their list of terrorists, two of them were “hardcore associates of terrorists (OGWs)”.
“Pertinently, one of the two is a relative of top HM commander Rayees Kachroo who was killed in 2017. Reportedly, the third might have joined very recently. Generally parents don’t have an idea about the activities of their wards. Several OGWs after committing terror crimes like grenade throwing & pistol shooting etc stay normally with their family,” police said in a statement.
CPI(M) leader M.Y Tarigami wanted a probe by a sitting judge. “There are unverified reports that they were killed in a fake encounter. If true, this is shocking and must be probed by a sitting High Court judge. The circumstances in which the killings happened need to be thoroughly probed,” he said.
Apni Party President Syed Altaf Bukhari also expressed concern saying that the claims by families have created misgivings about the veracity of Srinagar encounter.
“The version of families of the slain trio is contradictory to what the army and the police claim about the Hokersar encounter. So the government must clear the air and remove the misgivings about the same,” he told a local news agency.
Separatist Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said that said that such killings are heart wrenching ad demand a probe. “Such incidents warrant a fair and impartial probe be held , as the families of the killed youth are demanding , to get to the truth but in Kashmir this basic right to justice and redressal is a distant dream ,” it said in a statement.
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