The Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir has once again come under fire after it killed three militants in the early hours of Wednesday in an “encounter.” The family of one of the killed have alleged that they were “innocent.”
The three killed were identified as Ajaz Maqbool Ganie and Ather Mushtaq, residents of Pulwama, and Zubair Lone, a resident of Shopian. The security forces claimed that they were planning a strike at the Srinagar-Baramulla highway.
'Ours was in Srinagar to Deposit Fees, Our Son Went to Repair his Bike’- Families Plead the Innocence of Sons Killed in an overnight Encounter at Lawaypora Srinagar.
— Salman Shah (@salmanmshah) December 30, 2020
“For the past many days, intelligence inputs were pouring in about the movement of militants on the (Srinagar-Baramulla) national highway, General Officer Commanding (GoC), Kilo Force, H Sahi said at a press conference.
“Yesterday we developed leads and came to know that militants are hiding in a house. They were asked to surrender. However, they responded with firing and the operation was suspended for the night. When the operation was resumed in the morning, they were again given an offer to surrender.
However, they again started firing and hurled grenades at the forces, which gave us an indication that they had no intention to surrender.”
Srinagar markets observed a spontaneous shutdown on Friday against the Lawaypora, encounter.
— Kashmir Mirror (@Kashmir_Mirror) January 1, 2021
However, Ganie’s family contested these claims and said that he left for Kashmir university that morning as he was a student there.
According to a report by the Indian Express, the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) police said that it was a joint operation by the police, army, and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), but later said that they joined with CRPF only after they received the information that the “troops of 02 RR (Rashtriya Rifles)” were attacked with grenades and indiscriminate firing.
Pictures from Kashmir.
Families allege forces of Fake encounter in which three youth were killed. pic.twitter.com/kQyfQXbUVh
— Aarif Shah (@aarifshaah) December 30, 2020
The police said that the family’s claims were false as it verified digital evidence and corroborated that Aijaz and Ather had gone to Hyderpora and from there to the place of occurrence (encounter) only.
It further added that similarly, Zubair had gone first to Pulwama, then to Anantnag, then Shopian to Pulwama, and finally came to (the) place of occurrence. The police spokesperson claimed that Aijaz and Ather Mushtaq were OGWs (overground workers).
“Lawaypora Srinagar encounter started with army inputs and eventually fructified into a joint operation of the army, CRPF and the police. After the cordon was laid, terrorists lobbed grenades from inside and fired upon the search party,” the police said in a statement on Friday.
“Although as per (the) SOP, terrorists were repeatedly appealed (to) by the troops to surrender in the evening and again in the morning. However, instead of surrendering, they fired upon troops and eventually got neutralized in a firefight,” it added.
The incident occurred shortly after the J&K Police filed a chargesheet against three people, including one army officer alleging a fake encounter of three cousins working as laborers, earlier this year in the Shopian district of Kashmir.
Media reports suggest that the army has already conducted a probe and apprehended its officer and that disciplinary action under the Army act will be taken. Reportedly, the accused planted arms and ammunition on the site of the “encounter” after killing the three cousins.