Manufacturing Cannon-Fodder: 3 Pulwama youth survive ‘fake encounter’ booby-trap

Police Bust ‘Militant Module’ Set-Up By SOG Sub-Inspector For Stage-Managing Gunfights

SHABIR IBN YUSUF

Pulwama, July 17: Three years after the expose of dreadful Machil fake encounter where three hapless victims were lured by Army accomplices into death trap on the pretext of providing them jobs, almost a similar connive has come to fore in this south Kashmir district where the militant modules were allegedly being set up by the confederates of a police officer and the unsuspecting youth were then used as cannon-fodder for fake encounters in the mountainous Doda and Kishtwar districts.
The ghastly plot, according to a senior police officer in Pulwama, came to fore during investigations of a case relating to reported recruitment of some local boys in militant ranks. Giving details of the case, the police officer said, that the parents of three youth namely Rasikh Ahmad Teli of Petipora Pulwama, Muzzaffar Ahmad Sheik of Tahab Pulwama and Shehbaz Ahmad Bhat of Petipora Pulwama had filed a missing report about their wards in the local police station some two months back.
“However, the three youth returned to their homes after some time and police took them into custody for investigations,” the police officer said. He said during investigations, it came to surface, that Rasikh, Muzzaffar and Shehbaz were motivated by one Arshad Ahmad Mir son of Abdul Rehman Mir of Tahab Pulwama to join militant ranks.
Arshad, according to police, was, however, working as a conduit for the police-informer Muhammad Arif of district Kishtwar, who allegedly, used to set up militant modules for SOG Sub-Inspector Shiv Krishan Sharma alias Sonu who would subsequently shoot these modules down in alleged fake encounters in the mountains of Kishtwar and Doda.
Pertinently, Sonu and Arif were arrested on June 5 this year on charges of setting up militant modules and then stage-managing fake encounters in district Doda for promotions and rewards. They have already been booked for attempt to murder vide FIR No: 33/2013 US: 307 ¾ in Police Station Thathri, Doda.
Rasikh, Muzzaffar and Shehbaz, according to police, were handed over by Arshid to Arif who transported them in a Maruti 800 car to Kishtwar via Sinthon in May 2013.
Soon after they landed in Kishtwar, the trio, according to police, was handed over by Arif to a surrendered militant Rashid alias Abdullah and they were asked to roam in Kither forests “as militants.”
Meanwhile, Arif, according to police, sounded Sub-Inspector Sonu about the “arrival of the boys in the area.” Sonu, according to the investigating officer, in turn informed his seniors that he has inputs about the presence of a group of Kashmiri militants in Kither forests.
However, according to sources, a senior police officer in district Doda, who had already got suspicious of Sub-Inspector Sonu’s “dubious” activities directed him not to go for any operation in the area for “the time being.”
“It was common sense that Kashmiri youth would not come for militancy to Doda or Kishtwar. That is why we got suspicious,” a senior police official said.
Meanwhile, a message was flashed by Doda police to all district SSPs in Kashmir asking them to provide information about any missing youth in their respective areas. “We immediately got a communication from Pulwama police that three youth from the area were missing for some days,” the senior police officer from Jammu region told Greater Kashmir. On the other hand, the three Pulwama youth, according to police, had by then also got suspicious of “commander” Abdullah and they started smelling some foul play. “Sensing trouble, the trio gave slip to their ‘commander’ and somehow managed to reach back their homes in Kashmir,” the investigating officer said.
“Same morning we were informed by Sonu that the militants have managed their escape from Kither forests. We called Pulwama police who told us that the three missing youth have returned to their homes,” said the Jammu-based police officer.
The trio was taken into custody by police in Pulwama and during investigations the gory plot came to fore where the innocent youth were being purchased and then got killed for money and awards.
On May 19, 2013, the trio was taken to Kishtwar along with Arshad for questioning about the grenade attack on Thathri police post during the intervening night of April 27-28 this year. However, according to police, nothing adverse was found against them.
Pertinently, the persons arrested in connection with the grenade attack on Thathri police post has allegedly named Sub-Inspector Sonu as the main accused behind the blast. He has alleged that the grenade attack was carried out on the directions of the said police officer.
While Rasikh, Muzzaffar and Shehnaz were released thereafter, Arshid continues to be in police custody.
According to the youth, who have been since released, during the period they were in Kither forests, there had been at least one attempt to get them eliminated them in a fake encounter through Army as well. However, a local Gujjar saved them.  “While moving in the forests ‘Commander Abdullah’ asked us to take one route while he himself started heading in another direction. While the three of us were moving ahead, a Gujjar met us and informed that Army is waiting for them nearby. We immediately changed our track and there was huge firing in the area. In case we had ignored the advice of the Gujjar, we would have got killed there,” one of the youth told Greater Kashmir.
“We told the police the truth. We were not tortured by cops neither here nor in Doda ,” one among the trio said adding that they are living a normal life now. “Police advised to live normal life and not get entangled in such booby-traps. Police also told us they will help us in case we need it at any time,” he added.
Pertinently, Sonu has remained posted as Operations In-charge in erstwhile Doda district for the past 13 years.  It is said that even as ASI he used to supervise the operations - a job which is otherwise meant for SP Operations. In 2005, Sonu was transferred to Rajouri-Poonch range. However, he managed to get his transfer orders revoked.
When contacted Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Udhampur-Doda range, Ashkoor Wani acknowledged that the fact that Pulwama youth were lured. “Yes Pulwama youth were lured there is no denying the fact. Delay in operation saved their lives and further investigations are on,” DIG Wani told Greater Kashmir.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 17 Jul 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 17 Jul 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 18 Jul 2013 00:00:00 IST




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