Police admit to SHRC slain Lolab youth was not a militant

It was later found that the slain youth had gone to Phalilohar Pati Devar forest for grazing animals on July 7, 1998 but did not return.

SHABIR IBN YUSUF
Srinagar, Publish Date: Aug 18 2018 1:01AM | Updated Date: Aug 18 2018 1:01AM
Police admit to SHRC slain Lolab youth was not a militantFile Photo

Police have admitted to the State Human Rights Commission that a youth killed by soldiers along with three other suspected militants in the Phalilohar Pati Devar forests way back in 1998 was not a militant.  

Mohammad Iqbal Shah, 22, a resident of Devar Lolab was killed in July 1998 and his body was handed over to police by the army’s 15 RR unit camped at Trumikh, Watlab in Sopore along with the bodies of other three “unidentified terrorists”. 

On July 8, 1988 police said parents and relatives of Shah came to know that his body was handed over by the soldiers following which a case FIR No. 217/1988 regarding the incident was registered in the Sopore Police Station.

It was later found that the slain youth had gone to Phalilohar Pati Devar forest for grazing animals on July 7, 1998 but did not return.

Soldiers of the army’s 55 RR unit had claimed they sustained injuries during an armed encounter that took place in the forest area of Trumikh between militants and them, and that arms and ammunition was recovered from the four slain unidentified militants. 

However, a police investigation found that one among the killed persons was a civilian.

The revelations came about in the course of hearing of a petition filed in this regard in SHRC by rights activist and chairman of International Forum for Human Rights and Justice, Ahsan Untoo.

The Police Investigation Wing has told SHRC that concerned police have said the record reveals that Shah was a civilian and not involved in any subversive or criminal activity until his killing.

“During the course of an independent investigation, the statements of such witnesses who live in the vicinity of residence of the deceased were recorded, and in their individual statements they stated that deceased was a youth and besides this, he was doing his domestic labor and was a thorough gentleman. On 07-07-1998, the deceased left home for grazing his animals in the upper forest reaches of Trimukh Bahak and not returned home,” the PIW report states.

“They (witnesses) further stated that they could not say whether he was killed by the Army or got killed in the cross-firing. The discreet evidence collected in the incident also established the same facts.”

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