The dispute escalates over the Srinagar encounter
Normal life was disrupted in parts of the southern Kashmir district of Pulwama on Thursday due to the closure of shops and commercial establishments to protest the killings of three suspected terrorists in an operation outside Srinagar on Wednesday.
Police said mobile internet services in the Pulwama and Shopian districts were suspended to avoid any adverse incidents. “The situation remained calm in the districts. There were no restrictions although the internet was suspended, ”said a police officer.
According to the police, army troops and men from the Central Reserve Police Force and the Jammu and Kashmir police launched a cordon and search operation in the Lawaypora area on Tuesday night following an advisory on the presence of terrorists in the area.
“The operation was launched last night after receiving information that the terrorists were inside a house near the national highway. They were asked to surrender. However, they responded with gunfire and the operation was called off for the night and when it resumed again in the morning, they were again asked to surrender. However, they started firing again and threw grenades, “Kilo Force Commanding General Officer HS Sahi said Wednesday. All three men died in retaliation, he added.
However, the families of the three murdered men identified them as Zubair Ahmad from Turkawangam, Shopian; and Ajaz Maqbool and Athar Mushtaq from Putrigam, Pulwama. They said the men were students and alleged that they were detained and later killed by security forces.
Former Prime Minister of Jammu Kashmir and Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Mehbooba Mufti, met with the families of the three deceased and shared a letter from Ajaz’s family requesting his body and an investigation into his death. “I met the families of the young men killed at the Lawaypora meeting. Forget justice, even your corpses will not be returned to you for the last rites. They have lost their beloved children forever and amid the pain they have to even beg for closure, “he posted on Twitter with copies of the letter.
“The deceased was not even remotely related to any anti-national activity and the question of joining the militancy does not arise … The murder is very brutal and calculated, it is against the law of the land and it also hits democracy and the Indian constitution” says the letter from the family declared.
Police have claimed that while the three were not mentioned on their terrorist list, two of them were “unconditional associates of terrorists (OGW)”.
“Pertinently, one of the two is a relative of HM Rayees Kachroo’s high commander, who was assassinated in 2017. Reportedly, the third may have joined very recently. Parents generally have no idea about the activities of their pupils. Several OGWs after committing terrorist crimes such as grenade throwing and pistol shooting, etc., normally remain with their family, ”said the police in a statement.
CPI (M) leader MY Tarigami wanted an investigation by a sitting judge. “There are unverified reports that they were killed in a fake encounter. If true, this is shocking and should be investigated by a sitting Superior Court judge. The circumstances in which the killings occurred must be thoroughly investigated, ”he said.
Apni Party Chairman Syed Altaf Bukhari also expressed concern, saying that the claims of the families have raised doubts about the veracity of the Srinagar meeting.
“The version of the families of the murdered trio contradicts what the army and the police say about the Hokersar encounter. So the government must clarify things and eliminate doubts about the same, ”he told a local news agency.
The Hurriyat Separatist Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said those killings are heartbreaking and require an investigation. “Such incidents justify a fair and impartial investigation, as demanded by the families of the murdered youths, to get to the truth, but in Kashmir this basic right to justice and reparation is a distant dream,” he said in a release.