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Rajouri families suspect 3 ‘militants’ killed in Shopian encounter may be their missing kin

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Demand DNA profiling to ascertain identity of slain militants; Army says will initiate probe

Srinagar: An encounter last month in Shopian in south Kashmir has come under the authorities’ focus after families in Rajouri filed a complaint with the police about its missing members from the same area.

Families suspect that the three persons who have been killed as militants may actually be their missing kin and have demanded DNA sampling of the slain persons to establish their identity.

On July 18, the army claimed that three militants were killed in the higher reaches of Shopian. However, no further details were shared.

On Monday, Srinagar-based Defence spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia issued a brief statement saying the army has noted social media inputs linked to the operations at Shopian on July 18, 2020.

“The three terrorists killed during the operation have not been identified and the bodies were buried based on established protocols. The army is investigating the matter,” the defence spokesperson said.

The relatives of three youths, belonging to Rajouri villages, lodged a written missing report in the local police station after they lost contact with their kin on July 17.

In their complaint, the families informed the police that they had last spoken to the three, who were mainly involved in apple and walnut trading, on July 16 and they had said they got a room at Ashimpora in Shopian.

The same place was the site of the encounter the next day and since then there was no report about the three, the families said in their complaint.

Today the families of the three missing youth said they are not sure whether their children are those killed in Shopian gunfight on July 18, but want to be sure through DNA examination of the bodies of the “slain militants”.

Local news agency KNO quoted a police official as confirming that family members of three youth namely Ibrar Ahmed, son of Bagha; Imtiaz Ahmed, son of Sabir Hussain, both  residents of PH Dhar (Kathuni) Rajouri, and third one also named Ibrar Ahmed, son of M Yousuf, resident of Tarkassi, Rajouri filed their missing report on Sunday.

Till July 17, the family members said all three were in touch with their parents.

“But on July 18 the phones of all three came as switched off,” a family member of one of the missing youth said.

“After failing to trace them, we lodged missing report on Sunday at concerned police station. Our demand now is that police chief DGP and IGP Kashmir should allow exhumation of bodies for DNA mapping. We are ready for cross-examinations of the samples. The photographs of the slain that have gone viral suggest that the three persons who have been killed as militants are our children,” said one of the family members according to KNO.

Hussian Ahmad, brother-in-law of one of the missing youth also said the bodies of three youth killed in Amshipora, Shopian encounter should be exhumed and their DNA examinations done. “We should be allowed to identify them as well,” Ahmad said.

On July 18, police in a statement said that on a specific input by 62RR about presence of militants in village Amshipora area of Shopian district, an operation was launched in the area.

“During search militants fired upon army personnel and the encounter started. Later on police and CRPF also joined. In the encounter, three unidentified militants were killed,” the police statement had said.

“Bodies of all the killed three militants were retrieved from the site of encounter and the identification and affiliation of the slain is being ascertained,” it said.

The police statement had also said that the bodies of the killed militants were sent to Baramulla for their last rites after conducting medico-legal formalities including collection of their DNA and in case any family claims the killed militants to be their kith or kin, they can come forward for their identification and participation in last rites at Baramulla.

Social media remained abuzz today with netizens posting updates that “July 18 Shopian encounter was stage managed and three persons killed were labourers from Rajouri district.”

Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday termed the reports of three missing labourers killed in a staged encounter at Shopian as shocking and extremely excruciating episode and has said that such repressive measures have pushed Jammu and Kashmir in a precipice of a disaster.

PDP spokesman in a statement issued here has said that the reported killing of three missing labourers from Rajouri in a staged encounter at south Kashmir’s Shopian has raised questions on all such encounters in recent months especially in view of the new decision not to identify bodies, or hand them over to families and bury them reportedly in remote, inaccessible, unidentified places.

CPI(M) leader, M Y Tarigami today said that the incident of three labourers from Rajouri going missing from Shopian district from July 17 is a serious issue and needs a time-bound judicial probe.

“According to media reports the trio went missing just a day before the security forces claimed it killed three unidentified militants in Shopian. There are unverified reports that the missing labourers have been killed in a fake encounter in Shopian on July 18. This is shocking and must be probed by a sitting High Court judge in a time-bound manner,” Tarigami said in a statement issued here today.

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