Two of the three youths killed in an encounter with security forces in the Parimpora area of the city were "radically inclined" and working as overground workers of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terror outfit, police said on Friday and added that the case was being investigated. In a statement here, a spokesman of the Jammu and Kashmir Police said the claim of the family of one of the trio — Aijaz Maqbool Ganai — that he had gone to the university to fill up a form was verified through modern techniques and was found to be untrue.
The families of the slain youths have claimed that they had no connection with militancy. They staged a protest outside the police control room here and claimed that those killed included a Class 11 student, a university student and a carpenter. A shutdown was observed in many parts of Srinagar on Friday against the killings of the youths in the encounter on Wednesday, officials said.
The police spokesman said the encounter started following inputs from the Army and was a joint operation of the Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the police. "After the cordon was laid, terrorists lobbed grenade from inside and fired upon the search party. Although as per SoP, terrorists were repeatedly appealed by the troops to surrender in the evening and again in the morning. However, instead of surrendering, they fired upon troops and eventually got neutralised in a fire-fight, the spokesman said. He said the claim of Ganai's parents that he went to the university was verified and cross-checked through modern techniques, including records of the telecom department.
"Contrary to the claims, the verified digital evidence revealed and corroborated that Ganai and Ather Mushtaq had gone to Hyderpora and from there to the place of occurrence only, he said. The police spokesman said another youth — Zubair Lone — had gone first to Pulwama, then Anantnag, where from he went to Shopian and then again to Pulwama and finally came to Parimpora here. He said a background check has also revealed that Ganai and Mustaq were both overground workers (OGWs) and provided logistic support to militants.
"Antecedents and verifications too show that both were radically inclined and had aided terrorists of LeT — now so-called The Resistance Front (TRF) — outfit, the spokesman said. The police said one of OGWs presently under police custody has also corroborated Ganai's association with LeT militant Faisal Mustaq Baba who was killed in an encounter with security forces in the Meej area of Pampore in June last year.
Mushtaq was a relative and OGW of Hizbul Mujahideen top commander Rayees Kachroo who was killed in 2017, the spokesman said. The police, however, said it is investigating the case. "Nevertheless, police is investigating into the case from all possible angles, the spokesman added.
Mainstream political parties, including the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, have called for an impartial investigation into the incident. During the shutdown on Friday, shops and business establishments in several parts of Srinagar, especially in the old city, were shut. The shutdown was also observed in Maisuma and its adjoining areas near the Lal Chowk city centre.
However, public transport was plying normally in these areas, officials said. The shutdown was observed after reports surfaced on social media that separatist groups had called for a strike across the valley on Friday to protest the killings.