Shopian fake encounter | Families to seek bodies from DM Baramulla

Three families of Rajouri, whose boys were killed by security forces in South Kashmir’s Shopian district on July 18 and passed off as militants, will get the bodies of their kin soon as the date of exhumation would be decided on Saturday.

The families are on their way to Srinagar and set to meet District Magistrate Baramulla on Saturday. Police had buried the bodies of the three laborers in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on July 18 after claiming that those killed were ‘unidentified militants killed in a gunfight.’

On Thursday, District Magistrate Rajouri forwarded the application of the families to District Magistrate Baramulla. In the application the families have demanded bodies of their kin. “DM Rajouri has forwarded the application to DM Baramulla,” one of the family members told the Greater Kashmir over telephone. “We are on way to Srinagar.”

The family member said that they will be meeting DM Baramulla on Saturday. “He will give the date of exhumation,” he said.

District Magistrate Baramulla, Dr G N Yatoo, said that he was waiting for an official communication. “Once I receive the communication, the matter will be taken care of.”

Two days ago Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar told the Greater Kashmir that as the DNA samples of three dead bodies of Rajouri have matched with their family members, the bodies will be exhumed and handed over to their families after due process of law.

This will be the first such case after the Machil fake encounter of 2010 when authorities allowed exhumation of the bodies. Earlier in 2006, the authorities had also allowed exhumation in the infamous Ganderbal fake encounter case.

The Shopian fake encounter came to fore after there were posts on social media on 10 August 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 laborers 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.