Shopian encounter probe: Through newspaper ads, army asks civil witnesses to depose before CoI

The Army has asked the civil witnesses to depose before the Court of Inquiry as the probe gets underway into the alleged Shopian encounter.

The Army has got advertisements published in local newspapers in Kashmir in which witnesses have been assured confidentiality. “Any person having any credible inputs/information on the encounter by Security Forces at village Amshipora, District Shopian dated 18 July 2020 may please contact Deputy GOC, HQ CIF(Victor) on 01933-247026 within the next 10 days. The identity & details of the person will be kept secret,” reads the advertisement published in Wednesday’s edition of several local newspapers.

On Tuesday, the Army had said that a high level Court of Enquiry (CoI) is in progress regarding the alleged fake encounter on 18th July in the Amshipora area of south Kashmir’s Shopian.

The Army, in a statement, said that the testimonies of key witnesses were being recorded and the investigation was being closely monitored.

“Additional civil witnesses are being asked to depose before the Court of Inquiry,” the statement said. “Concurrently, DNA samples have been collected from Rajouri under the aegis of JKP [Jammu and Kashmir Police] and sent for matching with the militants killed on 18 Jul 2020.”

The encounter came under a cloud after three families from Rajouri district of Jammu claimed that the three slain were their kin and were labourers by profession.

On August 9, the families of the three Rajouri residents had gone to a local police post with a missing report that they last spoke to their kin on July 17, a day ahead of the encounter. The missing persons’ complaint was lodged on August 10.

On the basis of photographs that the family of the trio came across on social media – identified as Ibrar Ahmad (20), Imtiyaz Ahmad (25) and Ibrar Ahmad (17) of Rajouri – they have alleged that the three unidentified “militants” the army said it killed in a gunfight at Shopian on July 18 were, in fact, their “innocent” relatives.