Family of three missing labourers from Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir have alleged that the missing trio were killed in a staged encounter in south Kashmir's Shopian district on July 18.
Saleem Ahmad, cousin of one of the missing civilians Ibrar Ahmad, told News18 that he identified his cousin and two other relatives through circulated photographs of militants killed in an encounter on July 18 in Amshipora village of south Kashmir’s Shopian district.
“They are my relatives. The one in the centre of the photograph (of the alleged militants) is my cousin Ibrar Ahmad, while the other two are his relatives,” Saleem Ahmad said. Ahmad is one of the relatives of the missing teenager from Rajouri district.
A missing complaint was filed in the district police station Rajouri by the families of the missing trio on Sunday. Police officers confirmed that they have registered a missing report and are investigating the matter.
The trio has been identified as Imtiaz Ahmed, aged 25 years, son of Sabir Hussain, the teenaged Ibrar Ahmed(16), son of Bagha Khan and Ibrar Ahmed(20), son of Mohammad Yousuf.
The family claimed that the three had left their homes on the morning of July 17 and trekked to Shopian through mountains. They said the trio had spoken to their families in the evening.
“They called us up saying that they have reached Shopian at around 7:30 pm,” Naseeb Ahmad, a relative of one of the deceased told News18.
“Since then we had no contact with them. We tried to reach them but their phones were switched off,” Ahmad said.
Guftar Ahmed Chowdhary, a social activist from Rajouri told News18 that the family members of the trio waited for so many days with the apprehension that “they might have been put under quarantine due to the Covid-19.”
J&K police had said that “on a specific input by 62RR” of army “about presence of terrorists in village Amshipora area of District Shopian, an operation was launched and during the search the “terrorists fired upon the army personnel and an encounter ensued."
Later on police and CRPF had also joined, the press statement said, adding that "during encounter three unidentified terrorists were killed.”
The identification and affiliation of the slain militants, police said, was being retrieved.
“Incriminating materials, including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter,” the police added in the press release.
The dead bodies, police mentioned, were sent to Baramulla for their last rites after conducting medico-legal formalities including collection of their DNA.
“In case any family claims the killed terrorists to be their kith or kin, they can come forward for their identification and participation in last rites at Baramulla,” the police press release stated.
Police had also registered an FIR (No. 42/2020) at Police Station Hirpora and stated that
an investigation has been initiated into the matter.
“Police told us that they have started investigation and we are yet to hear,” Saleem Ahmad said.
SSP Shopian, Amrit Pal Singh didn’t respond to the calls from News18.
Srinagar based Defense spokesperson Rajesh Kalia said, “We have noted social media inputs linked to the operation at Shopian on 18 Jul 2020. The three terrorists killed during the operation have not been identified and the bodies were buried based on established protocols. The army is investigating the matter.”
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, who is detention since August 2019 reacted on Twitter to the news saying that she is shocked to hear that they have been killed in a staged encounter. The twitter handle is being operated by Mufti’s daughter, Iltija Mufti.
“Shocked to hear about reports of 3 missing labourers reportedly killed in a staged encounter at Shopian. Armed forces have a free hand to operate with impunity. Explains why bodies are allowed to decompose at unknown locations.Probes into recent encounters must be ordered,” Mufti tweeted.
Under the new policy, police doesn’t identify the body of militants and doesn’t give body of the slain to the family members due to the Covid-19.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday called the reports of three missing labourers killed in a staged encounter at Shopian as shocking.
"The encounter has raised questions on all such encounters in recent months especially in view of the new decision not to identify bodies, or hand them over to families and bury them reportedly in remote, inaccessible, unidentified places. In order to justify its repressive, unconstitutional, inhuman and extremely violent measures upon the people of Kashmir, all government of India needs is a militancy narrative," the statement read.