After about two months of investigation into the killing of three Rajouri laborers by security forces in a fake encounter in Shopian district of southern Kashmir, police have arrested two persons.
“We have arrested two persons in connection with the Shopian encounter,” J&K Director General of Police, Dilbag Singh, told reporters here. “We had detained them earlier, but have arrested them after DNA results of bodies and Army investigations.”
Police sources said that the two are local residents.
The police chief said that he cannot share any details beyond that. “From day one we have assured a fair investigation and the probe is in its final stage,” he said. However, he denied to comment whether more people will be arrested or not. “I won’t be commenting on the issue more,” he said. “We will come to you with all the details.”
Sources said that the two were produced in a local court in Shopian, which remanded them in judicial custody for eight days.
These are the first arrests in the Shopian fake encounter in which security forces killed three laborers from Rajouri and reported them as militants killed in a gunfight on 18 July this year.
Since 10 August evening, there were posts on social media that the three residents of Rajouri – 26 year old Ibrar Ahmed son of Mohammad Yousuf resident of Tarkassi, 21 year old Mohammad Imtiyaz son of Sabar Hussain resident of Kathuni Mohalla of Dharsakri and 18 year old Mohammad Abrar son of Bagha Khan resident of Kathuni Mohalla of Dhar Sakri – who had come to Shopian for labour work have been killed in a fake encounter on 18 July by Army’s 62 Rashtriya Rifles.
The Army had ordered an inquiry into the incident on 11 August. After the initial inquiry Army admitted that powers vested under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)?were ‘exceeded’ in the 18 July fake encounter in which three larborers were killed.
“The inquiry has brought out prima facie evidence indicating that during the operation, powers vested under the AFSPA 1990 were exceeded and the dos and don’ts of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as approved by the Hon’ble Supreme Court have been contravened. Consequently, the competent disciplinary authority has directed initiation of disciplinary proceedings under the Army Act against those found prima-facie answerable,” Army had said, adding that the evidence collected showed that the three unidentified men killed in Amshipora are actually Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohd Ibrar – all from Rajouri.
Kin of the deceased, residents of Peeri Tehsil in Rajouri, had said that the boys left home on July 16 in search of work. They reached Shopian district where they rented a room.
Earlier, the families of the three wrote to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, seeking his intervention after the DNA reports were delayed.
DNA samples from the families were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) Srinagar, and the FSL at Chandigarh.
Apart from the concerned families, the investigation has come under severe criticism from various quarters especially the defenders of the Human Rights for its snail’s pace who have alleged that the investigation process is slow because authorities are allegedly trying to botch it up to save those who are involved in the killing of the youths.
After the DNA results confirmed that those passed off as militants were laborers, the families of the victims have sought capital punishment to the guilty soldiers.