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Bodies of Shopian Encounter Victims Exhumed after 70 Days, Handed Over to Families for Last Rites

The spot where the gunfight took place in Amshipora village of Shopian.

The spot where the gunfight took place in Amshipora village of Shopian.

The bodies of the three civilians belonging to Rajouri district in Jammu division were exhumed after 70 days from a graveyard in the Gantamulla area of the north Kashmir Baramulla district.

Bodies of the three youth, killed in an alleged fake encounter by the Army in Jammu and Kashmir's Shopian district in July, were exhumed and later laid to rest in their hometown in Rajouri district by the family members, officials said on Saturday.

The exhumation was done late on Friday night at an unidentified location in north Kashmir -- hours after Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh said the legal process to exhume and handover the bodies to their families was on and would be completed soon.

"The bodies of the three persons were exhumed and then handed over to their families," the officials said in Srinagar.

"All the three bodies were buried by their family members in their ancestral graveyards on Saturday evening. The burial took place peacefully," Senior Superintendent of Police, Rajouri, Chandan Kohli told PTI.

On July 18, the Army claimed that three militants were killed in Amshipura village in the higher reaches of south Kashmir's Shopian district.

The Army initiated an inquiry after social media reports indicated that the three men were from Rajouri district in Jammu and had gone missing in Amshipura. The families of the trio, who worked as labourers in Shopian, had also filed a police complaint.

The probe was completed in a record four-week time and on September 18, the force said it has found "prima facie evidence" that its troops "exceeded" powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) during the encounter. Disciplinary proceedings were then initiated.

The police also launched its investigation and collected the DNA samples of the families which matched with the slain persons.

According to the officials, the bodies reached their Dharsakri and Tarkassi villages around 6.45 pm via Mughal road, an alternate road linking Shopian district of south Kashmir with the twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region.

While Mohammed Ibrar (21) and Imtiaz Ahmad (26) were buried at their ancestral graveyard at Dharsakri, the burial of Ibrar Ahmad (18) was performed at his nearby Tarkassi village, the officials said adding a large number of locals participated in the funeral prayers.

Senior police officers led by a deputy inspector general (DIG) and SSP were present during the funeral of the trio which concluded peacefully, officials said.

Earlier, they said the families of the three men were called from Rajouri district and taken to the spot where the trio was buried in north Kashmir and the bodies were handed over to them.

On September 30, inspector general of police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said since the DNA samples matched with the family, the three bodies will be exhumed and handed over to families after due process of law.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) vice president Choudhary Zulfikar Ali hailed the decision to handover of the bodies to the family members and demanded exemplary punishment for the guilty.

"The exhumation of three bodies and a fair investigation will restore the confidence of the people in the government and its justice system," said Ali, a former minister.

"Delivering justice will also work as deterrence for the elements in the forces so that they do not repeat such incidents," he said adding the kin of the three youth should be duly compensated and be given a government job.


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