The Sopore civilian, who died in an encounter that caught the attention of the nation after his 3-year-old grandson was pictured sitting on top of his body and weeping, did not fall prey to “any act of omission or commission” by the CRPF, DG AP Maheshwari has told News18.
The CRPF audit and internal enquiry has given a clean chit to the personnel who were involved in the encounter in which 65-year-old Bashir Ahmed Khan lost his life on July 1. Khan’s son and daughter alleged that CRPF men on patrol duty dragged him out of his car and killed him.
However, the CRPF DG refuted the claim. "Whatever may be the allegation, as the chief of the force, we know ourselves. We have zero tolerance to abuse of human rights. We want to avoid any collateral damage. It is unfortunate that a civilian has been killed. We lost one constable as well. We have audited our own internal procedure, we have seen our cameras which were on the vehicle; there is nothing to show that the civilian was killed by a CRPF bullet or personnel. In all likelihood, he died because of a terrorist bullet. In fact, the child was saved by a CRPF constable,” Maheshwari said.
He added that the investigation ordered by the state government is underway and only that can reveal how Khan, who was travelling to Kupwara from Sopore in a vehicle with his grandchild, ended up on the road.
"Drawing inference from a single photograph is difficult. CRPF never had a culture of killing innocents. Even if it is a terrorist, we try to catch them alive and question them," he said. DG CRPF refused to comment when asked about the baby’s video where he is heard telling his family that policemen killed his grandfather.
Maheshwari said the CRPF has eliminated 140 terrorists in Kashmir this year and credited the "perfect coordination between army, JK police and CRPF" for intelligence gathering which is leading to successful operations. On Friday too, 3 Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists were killed in a joint operation in Kulgam. He said most of the recent operations have been against local Kashmiri youngsters who have taken up arms. He said the biggest challenge before the security establishment right now is to defeat the "adversary in the propaganda war," which is leading youngsters to believe the terror narrative and take up guns.