MACHIL KILLINGS:Victims laid to rest amid protests, shutdown

Greater Kashmir

Another SPO detained

Nadihal (Rafiabad), May 29: Three youths allegedly killed by troopers in a fake encounter in Machil sector on April 30 were laid to rest here in north Kashmir on Saturday. At least six persons were wounded when police resorted to baton charge and fired tear smoke canisters to disperse the mourners while they tried to march towards the Varmul town.
Thousands of mourners carrying the bodies of Shahzad Ahmed, Riyaz Ahmad and Muhammad Shafi assembled on Rafiabad-Varmul road this morning and staged a massive demonstration. “We will not bury them till culprits are identified and punished for committing the heinous crime,” the mourners shouted and tried marching towards Varmul town.
However, a huge contingent of police intercepted the mourners near Chakla and used force to quell them. Mourners offered stiff resistance and retaliated with stones triggering clashes in which at least six of them were wounded, including one Muhammad Ashraf who was rushed to Srinagar for treatment.
As the situation turned grim, top officials from the district administration including the Deputy Commissioner Varmul, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, and top brass of police, including Deputy Inspector General of Police, Abdul Qayoom Manhas, Senior Superintendent of Police, Shakeel Beigh rushed to the spot.
“Government has already ordered probe into the killings. None will be spared,” the DC told the protestors.
Amid arguments between the officials and mourners they later agreed to retreat and the slain youth were buried in the local graveyard at Nadihal late afternoon.

Meanwhile, nine persons were injured, some of them hit by the rubber bullets, in the clashes between police and protestors, as Varmul witnessed complete shutdown today.
Two of the injured persons who were hit by the rubber bullets, were rushed to Srinagar for treatment while as one of the injured person who has received rubber bullet in his thigh was operated upon in the District Hospital. An official of the district hospital confirmed the injuries.

Police on Saturday picked up a Special Police Officer for questioning in connection with the fake encounter killings of three Nadihal youth taking the total arrests made in the case to four.
Sources told Greater Kashmir that Qayoom Lone of Nadihal who is working with Special Operations Group was handed over to investigation team by the Varmul police this morning after they sought his custody in connection with the killings.
They revealed that Lone is brother of Bashir Lone another SPO who has already been arrested and booked for abduction and murder along with Territorial Army trooper Abbas and Army informer Abdul Hamid in the case.
“Lone will be interrogated for his role in luring the victims on promise of providing them porters’ job in Army,” sources said.
Police has also identified the driver of the Sumo in which the deceased were taken to Thiyan Kalaroos from Varmul town by the three accused on April 29, and handed over to Army who had later killed them in fake encounter.
“The name of an Army Major of 4 Rajput Rifles involved in fake encounter killings had also surfaced during the interrogation of accused and they identified his name him Bhupinder,”
However they revealed the battalion had been moved out of the state to some unknown location.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, the Inspector General of police Kashmir range Farooq Ahmed confirmed that police had detained Lone for questioning in the case.
“Police will seek custody of anybody who is required in the case,” the IG responded to a question on whether they have sought custody of Major whose name had surfaced in the killings.
Meanwhile on late Friday night, thousands of mourners set on fire the house of Lone brothers at Nadihal.