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Police SIT rules out any foul play by security forces in Hyderpora encounter

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Claims Bhat and Magray died in cross-fire, Dr Mudasir was killed by foreign militant

Srinagar: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Jammu and Kashmir Police which probed the Hyderpora encounter, on Tuesday ruled out any foul play by the security forces, saying while one civilian was killed by the foreign militant, the owner of the building and a “local militant” died in “crossfire” after being used as human shield by the hiding ultra.

The police had claimed that four persons, including a foreign militant, were killed in a joint operation by the police, Army’s 2 Rashtriya Rifles and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in an encounter in Hyderpora area of Srinagar on November 15 evening.

Besides the foreign militant, police had claimed that all the slain men had links to militancy. The families of the three – Mohammad Altaf Bhat, owner of the building where encounter took place, Dr. Mudasir Gul, a dentist who owned an office there and Aamir Magrey who was working with the Dr. Gul — claimed that they were innocent and had alleged foul play, prompting the police to order the inquiry.

Police set up a Special Investigation Team headed by DIG Central Kashmir Range, Sujit Kumar to look into the facts surrounding the controversial encounter.

On Tuesday, the head of the SIT, DIG Sujith K Singh, virtually gave a clean chit to the security forces but added the team was open to reviewing its findings if any other evidence comes to light.

“Our investigation so far has revealed that Dr Mudasir Gul was killed by the foreign terrorist hiding inside the building as his body was recovered from the attic. The security forces did not go to the attic at all during searches or subsequent operation,” head of the SIT, DIG Sujith K Singh, told media at a press conference here.

Giving details of the investigations, Singh said the probe has revealed that Amir Magray, the employee of Dr Gul, “was closely associated with the foreign terrorist ‘Bilal Bhai’, who was killed in the operation while trying to flee.”

“Mohammad Altaf Bhat (building owner) and Amir were killed in the crossfire with security forces as they were used as a human shield by the foreign terrorist. It is substantiated by the fact the Altaf fell (after being hit by bullets) outside the door, while Amir had managed to run few more steps and the foreign terrorist’s body was found 83 feet away,” he said.

The officer said besides examining the CCTV footage and call detail records, the SIT has also examined more than 20 witnesses so far.

“Statements of six of these witnesses have been recorded before the magistrate as well,” he added.

Asked why the civilians were sent in for house searches if the security forces had information about the presence of militants inside, the officer said Bhat had volunteered to go inside as “he was very sure that there was no one hiding inside”.

“At no point of time did any of them tell the security forces about the presence of the terrorist inside or seek any help, ” he added.

The SIT chief said the investigation was still going on and the team was open to reviewing its findings if any evidence, suggesting so, comes to light.

On Amir Magrey’s involvement, Singh said the recoveries made in the building like codeine bottles and winter apparel pointed to the existence of a hideout.

“We have found out that Amir was frequently visiting Bandipora. Why would someone visit Bandipora so frequently when he (his family) had fled that place in 2008?” he asked.

Singh referred to statements of some “protected witnesses” in the case which he said “lead to the conclusion that the building was used as a hideout by the terrorists”.

“We found a dongle from the body of the foreign terrorist. The location of the device was at Jamalatta on 14th November where a firing incident took place,” he said.

Asked if the police disclosure about the investigations could preempt the magisterial probe ordered by the union territory government, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said the inquiry was already complete.

“That probe has been completed and the report has been submitted to the government four days ago.  The government has directed the District Magistrate to place the report before the judicial magistrate concerned,” he added.

The families of Bhat, Gul and Magray had claimed that they were innocent and held protests, demanding their bodies be returned. Several political parties also extended support to the demand and the administration handed over the bodies of Bhat and Gul on November 18.

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