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PDP chief stages protest against civilian killings

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Farooq seeks LG's intervention in handing over bodies of civilians

Jammu/Srinagar: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday led a strong protest here against the civilian killings by security forces, and demanded handing over of bodies of the deceased to their families.

The former chief minister said since the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been in force, there has been no accountability for the killings of the innocents.

Holding a placard that read “Stop killing us, probe Hyderpora killings, end impunity and handover bodies to families”, Mufti, along with party activists and leaders, staged a protest against these killings outside the party’s Gandhi Nagar headquarters.

A strong posse of policemen stopped the protesters from moving towards the main road.

Mufti told reporters that the families of the slain civilians are holding protests in Srinagar and demanding handover of their bodies.

“This cruel government is not even handing over the bodies after killing people. They (BJP) want to convert this nation of Gandhi, Nehru, and Ambedkar into a country of Godse. What else can I say?” the PDP leader said.

Asked about the IGP’s claim of there being digital evidence against those killed, she said: “If they had prior evidence, why the police did not arrest them, as they have been doing on a daily basis.”

“Whenever anybody gets killed in their firing, they dub him an over-ground worker, and that is wrong.

“Since the AFSPA has been in force, there has been no accountability and no one’s been answerable,” she said.

“They are innocent civilians and their families are denied even performing of their last rites,” she added.

Referring to a previous incident of fake encounter in which three youths were killed, she said the security agencies made the claim of having digital evidence even then, but the reality is that they have no evidence.

Three orchard labourers were killed in a staged encounter in Amshipora village of Shopian on July 18, 2020.

Meanwhile, National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday sought the intervention of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha in handing over the bodies of two civilians killed in the Hyderpora encounter.

The bodies were buried by police in Handwara area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district to “avoid any law and order problems”.

In a tweet on its party handle, the NC said its party president and MP Farooq Abdullah has spoken to Sinha and reiterated his demand for an impartial probe into the civilian killings.

“He also sought the LG’s intervention in handing over the bodies to their kin,” the party said.

The NC said the LG has assured Abdullah to look into the demands of the victim families.

Meanwhile, NC vice-president Omar Abdullah said the civilians were killed because they were put in harm’s way.

“The police admit they took the building owner (Altaf) and the tenant (Gul) in to the building & used them to knock on doors. How then can these people be termed as militants? They are civilians who died because they were put in harm’s way,” Abdullah wrote on Twitter.

He said to “vilify them as militants or OGWs is bad enough but to take the bodies away & forcibly bury them in North Kashmir is a crime against humanity”.

“The bodies must be returned to the families so they can be buried. It’s the only just thing & it’s the only humanitarian thing to do,” he said.

Later some NC functionaries also joined the sit-in protest of the kin of the persons who were killed in Hyderpora, demanding handing over of the bodies to their kin.

Echoing the demand of protesting kin of slain persons, they asked the J&K administration to handover the dead bodies to their kin for last rites. They also reiterated the party’s demand for impartial probe into the killings citing the precedence and pattern to fake encounters in Kashmir.

“The contrasting versions about the killings have sent across a wave of fear across Kashmir. Varying versions have raised the misgivings among the people. Allegations of using unarmed as human-shields have also surfaced. Violation of required SOPs and rule of law with impunity in Kashmir is highly unfortunate. We are here to express our unison with the kin of the slain. The victim families should be heard and their demands should be met,” NC said.

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