Families claim killed militants were labourers, Army orders probe

Ibrar was working in Kuwait, Imtiaz a college student

Excelsior Correspondent
SRINAGAR/ JAMMU, Aug 10: The families of three labourers who went missing on July 18, same day when Army gunned down “three militants” in Shopian, claimed that those killed are their wards.
Family members of three youth Ibrar Khan (18), son of Bagga Khan; Imtiaz Ahmed (21), son of Sabar Hussain, both residents of Dhar Sakri in Peeri area of Kotranka in Rajouri and Ibrar Ahmed (25) son of Mohammad Yousuf, resident of Tarkassi, near Peeri (Rajouri) filed missing report on Sunday at Peeri Police Post. A formal report was today lodged by the family members and relatives of the youth at Kandi ( Kotranka) Police Station.
They have also released pictures of these three men who resemble the killed militants. In a missing report lodged at Police Post Peeri, the family members said all till July 17, three were in touch with their parents and other family members.  “But on July 18 and afterwords the phones of all three were switched off,” a family member said.
“After failing to trace them, we lodged missing report on Sunday. Our demand now is that 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 trio are our children”, claimed family members.
Mohd Yousuf, father of Ibrar said, his son was working with a private company in Kuwait for the last four years. He had come about two years ago on his marriage. He has a son of over one year. He came hardly seven months ago from Kuwait on three months leave to meet family and see new born, but got struck here due to lockdown and suspension of flights.
Yousuf further said Ibrar was sitting idle at home with no work due to lockdown. Imtiaz, their relative was already in Shopian since June 15, working in apple orchards. He got in touch with him to look for some work. Thereafter, his son and another relative, 18 year- old Ibrar, son of Bagga Khan left for Shopian on July 16, 2020. He said this 18-year old boy had just passed 12th class and had to take admission in College. Imtiaz is also studying in college but that was closed due to lock down. Being poor, he was also working to feed the family and manage his education. He used to visit Shopian during fruit season for the past few years for work but these boys have noting to do with militancy, he maintained.
“On July 17 during the day, Ibrar talked to his wife on mobile phone and told that they have got rented room near an Army camp at Shopian and reached safe and sound. He also told that area is safe as well. The other boys also talked to their families on the same day but after July 17, they could not be contacted as their phones were found switched off. They were worried after no contact for a week and also approached DC Rajouri for travel permission to Shopian but the same was not granted by the Administration.
After the pics of boys went wiral on social media yesterday, they were shattered to see the same. “If our children are found involved in militancy, Govt must hang the entire family in public. We are ready for any punishment,” Yousu asserted. He said the track record of these boys is very clear in society and also in police record. Yousuf urged upon the Lt Governor of J&K UT Manoj Sinha and Home Minister Amit Shah to order high level inquiry into the matter and punish the guilty.
Meanwhile, the Army is investigating the allegations. Defence spokesman in Srinagar, Colonel Rajesh Kalia said. “With social media abuzz with the reports that the encounter was “stage managed” the Army said in a statement. “It has noted social media inputs linked to the operation at Shopian on July 18.” The Army said that militants remained unidentified and that it has ordered investigations into the matter.
On July 18, J&K Police in a statement said that on a specific input by 62 RR about presence of militants in village Amshipora area of district Shopian, an operation was launched in the area.
During search, militants fired upon Army personnel and the encounter started. Later, 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.”
The police statement had read 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.
An official source said that only two pistols were recovered from the encounter site.
Commander 12 Sector of Army’s RR, Brigadier Ajay Katoch, while addressing a press conference on the matter had said that Army received human intelligence from a Unit source about presence of 5 militants in village Amshipora at 2 am.  “The cordon was laid at 2.45 am While cordon party was laying cordon, it was fired at and it retaliated. And by 4.30 am Police and CRPF also reached the operation site and three militants were killed in a newly constructed house”, he added.
Inspector General of Police Kashmir, Vijay Kumar told Excelsior said that nothing can be said as of now. “Family members who claim that they are their wards have not reached Shopian yet. They will meet SSP Shopian and give their statement. We can’t say anything as of now. Army is also looking into it. Let us wait”, he added.