Srinagar: Hours after the Indian army claimed that three youth who were killed in a military operation in Amshipora village of Shopian in south Kashmir on July 18, were labourers from Rajouri district of JK, the former Director-General of Police Jammu and Kashmir, Shesh Paul Vaid said that “killings innocents and showing them as militants is a most heinous crime.”
In a tweet, Vaid also said that those involved in the killing should be charged for murder.
“Killing innocent youth and show them as terrorists is most heinous crime and those involved should be charged for murder,” Vaid tweeted.
On Friday, the army said that the three ‘militants’ killed in Shopian were, in fact, three youth from Rajouri as claimed by the families and that its forces exceeded powers vested to them in Amishpora Shopian.
The three youths from JK’s Rajouri district were killed in a military operation and the army said it has initiated “disciplinary proceedings” into the incident.
In a statement, the Indian army said that the inquiry ordered by the army authorities into Operation Amshipora has been concluded.
“The inquiry has brought out certain prima facie evidence indicating that during the operation, powers vested under the AFSPA 1990 were exceeded and the Do’s and Don’ts of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as approved by the Hon’ble Supreme Court have been contravened,” the statement said.
“Consequently, the competent disciplinary authority has directed to initiate disciplinary proceedings under the army act against those found prima-facie answerable. The evidence collected by the inquiry has prima-facie indicated that the three unidentified militants killed in Operation Amshipora were Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohd Ibrar, who hailed from Rajouri,” the army said in the statement.
Their DNA report is awaited. Their involvement with militancy or related activities is under investigation by the police, the statement added.
The statement mentioned that the Indian army is committed to the ethical conduct of operations. “Further updates on the case will be given periodically without affecting the due process of the law of the land,” it said.
On July 18, the army claimed that it killed “3 unidentified militants” in Amshipora during a gunfight with armed forces personnel. However, weeks after their killing, three families from Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district claimed that three youth killed in Amshipora are their kin.
Hailing from district’s Peeri Tehsil, identified as Imtiaz Ahmed son of Sabir Hussain, Ibrar Ahmed, son of Bagha Khan and Ibrar Ahmed son of Mohammad Yousuf, left their homes on July 15 to find work in Kashmir.
Amidst the COVID lockdown, the trio managed to reach Shopian district where they rented a room, and purchased some essentials, as per the family.
Speaking to Free Press Kashmir, a relative of one of the three persons said; “the last time we spoke to them was on July 17, after that we were not able to establish any contact with them.”
A social activist from Rajouri, Guftar Ahmed Chowdhary told Free Press Kashmir; “the family members were apprehensive that they might have been put in quarantine given the inter-district travel and might contact soon. Days turned into weeks, and when they lost patience, they reached out to me, after which we registered the FIR.”
A senior Kashmiri journalist, Ahmed Ali Fayaz took to twitter and wrote that “all three ‘suspected militants’ killed in Amshipora Shopian ‘encounter’ on 18 July 2020, have been reportedly identified as the missing labourers of Rajouri on basis of photographs by the families.”
Fayaz wrote that if this was the truth, then it would be the first such case (of fake encounter) after killing of 3 civilians in Machil in 2010.
Reacting to this, army later said that a high-level Court of Inquiry is underway into the alleged stage-managed encounter of July 18 that took place at Amshipora, Shopian, and the statements of key witnesses are being recorded.
On August 11, the army had stated that it had taken note of the reports where netizens had termed the encounter as a fake and maintained that “investigation into the matter was ordered.”
In a statement, Defence spokesman Rajesh Kalia had said that as intimated on August 11, a high-level court of inquiry into the operation Amshipora, Shopian is under process.
“Statements of key witnesses are being recorded and progress is being monitored closely. Additional civil witnesses are being asked to depose before the CoI Concurrently, DNA samples have been collected from Rajouri under the aegis of Jammu and Kashmir police and sent for matching with the militants killed on July 18, 2020,” the spokesman had said.
He had said that the army is committed to the ethical conduct of all the Counter militancy operations. “Cases, where doubts are raised, are investigated under due process as per the law of the land. Since the case is under investigation, further details will be shared periodically, as appropriate without affecting the due legal process,” the Defence spokesman said.
Pertinently, a special team from Jammu and Kashmir Police had also visited Rajouri and collected the samples of families of the slain trio. The samples were sent to Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for cross-matching the reports of which are expected by September 5.
On September 17, JK’s Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh said that final results of the samples collected from three family members from Rajouri will be out in a few days.
“There is no delay in results as the process takes time. I believe it’s a matter of few days when the results of DNA samples will be out,” DGP said when asked that it has been over a month since DNA samples were collected from six family members of three families in Rajouri district of Jammu.
The families have been demanding an independent probe, a demand supported by the Amnesty International and other civil society groups.