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 ‘Legitimate doubts’ loom over authenticity of Rambagh encounter: Mufti

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Srinagar: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday said “legitimate doubts are looming” over the authenticity of the encounter in Rambagh area of the city here in which police killed three militants.

Officials had said that three militants, including a self-styled commander of The Resistance Front (TRF), wanted in the recent civilian killings in the city, were killed by security forces on Wednesday.

In a tweet, Mufti said, “After yesterday’s alleged encounter at Rambagh legitimate doubts are looming over its authenticity”.

The PDP chief charged that according to reports and witnesses “it seems that the firing was one sided”.

“Again the official version far from truth is not in line with ground realities as seen in Shopian, HMT & Hyderpora,” the former chief minister alleged.

The three slain militants were identified by police as Mehraan Yaseen Shalla, son of Mohammad Yaseen Shalla of Jamalata Srinagar; Arafat Ahmad Sheikh, son of Mohammed Maqbool Sheikh of Nikloora Litter Pulwama, and Manzoor Ahmad Mir, son of Late Sonaullah Mir, resident of Babhar Pulwama.

According to the officials, the militants were affiliated with TRF, an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The allegations by the PDP chief come on the heels of the killing of two civilians Mohammad Altaf Bhat and Dr Mudassir Gul in an alleged shootout in Hyderpora area of Srinagar earlier this month.

After police buried the two civilians in far off Handwara in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, J&K government exhumed them and handed over the bodies to their families after public outcry and allegations by the families that Altaf and Mudassir were killed in a “fake encounter”.

With regard to Wednesday’s militant killings, a police spokesperson said that the trio was killed in an “encounter” at busy Rambagh-Srinagar road.

“Acting on a specific information regarding the movement of terrorists, Srinagar Police immediately swung into action and established a special naka to track them down,” police said, adding, the “terrorists were traveling in a car which was signalled to stop by the naka party. They did not stop and instead opened fire on the naka party which was retaliated, triggering an encounter.”

In the ensuing encounter, the three militants of TRF outfit were killed, police added.

However, several people, who said they were eye witnesses to the incident, claimed that the trio, was shot dead by the police and that there was no exchange of fire.

Several videos have surfaced on social media in which women who have gathered near the spot of the incident claiming that the trio was unarmed and forces shot them “in front of them”.

Meanwhile, most of the shops in the Downtown area of Srinagar were shut on Thursday while mobile internet remained suspended in many parts of the city a day after Rambagh encounter, officials said.

The areas where the shutdown was observed included Nowhatta, Gojwara, Khanyar, Safakadal, Nawakadal, Rajouri Kadal and MR Gunj in the interior areas of Srinagar. However, traffic was plying normally.

The officials said mobile internet was suspended in several areas of the city as a precautionary measure.

Police on Wednesday said security forces killed three militants in a brief encounter in the Rambagh area of the city.

The slain included self-styled commander of TRF Mehran Shalla, a resident of the Jamalata area in Nawakadal here.

The other two militants were identified as Manzoor Ahmad Mir and Arafat Sheikh, both residents of Pulwama.

Police said the three were affiliated with TRF, “an offshoot of the Lashkar-e-Toiba”.

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