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Army starts investigation into July 18 Shopian encounter

Army personnel near the encounter site in Shopian on July 18, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

The Army has started an investigation into the killing of three alleged militants in an encounter in south Kashmir’s Shopian on July 18, after three families from Rajouri claimed the deceased may be their missing kin and demanded DNA testing.

“We have noted the social media inputs linked to the operation at Shopian on July 18, 2020. The three terrorists killed during the operation have not been identified and the bodies were buried based on established protocols. The Army is investigating the matter,” a Srinagar-based Army spokesman said.

Also read: All militant recruits from Srinagar neutralised, says Kashmir IGP Vijay Kumar

However, the three families claimed that they lost contact with their kin, who were labourers, on July 18 when “they were on the way home and were stationed in Shopian for a night”.

The missing youth were identified by the families as Ibrar Ahmad, Imtiyaz Ahmad and Muhammad Yousuf, all residents of Rajouri.

“We have already lodged a missing report. The families should be allowed to identify the bodies,” Hussian Ahmad, a relative of a missing youth, said.

Also read: How did Shopian, Kashmir's apple bowl, turn into a battleground district?

The families have demanded DNA matching. Saleem Ahmad, a relative of Ibrar, said he spotted the face of his cousin in the pictures uploaded online of the slain militants killed in the encounter on July 18.

According to a July 18 police statement, the Army’s 62 Rashtriya Rifles started an operation on a specific input about the presence of militants in village Amshipora area of Shopian district.

“During the search, militants fired upon Army personnel and the encounter started. Later on, police and CRPF also joined. In the encounter, three unidentified militants were killed,” the statement read.

Parties demand probe

Regional parties in Kashmir have demanded a probe into the incident.

“(I am) Shocked to hear about reports of three missing labourers reportedly killed in a staged encounter at Shopian. Armed forces have a free hand to operate with impunity. (This) Explains why bodies are allowed to decompose at unknown locations. Probes into recent encounters must be ordered,” Iltija Mufti, daughter of Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti, said.

CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami termed the incident “a serious issue” and demanded “a time-bound judicial probe”.

A police spokesman said the Shopian police will examine the claims of the families and carry out DNA sampling for matching purpose. 

“Besides identification, the police will also investigate all other aspects as per the law in due course of time,” the spokesman said.


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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 11:51:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/army-starts-investigation-into-july-18-shopian-encounter/article32323727.ece

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