Probe ordered into J&K encounter

Family members of alleged civilians killed during operation removed from sit-in site.

November 18, 2021 12:25 pm | Updated 10:05 pm IST - Srinagar

Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah stages a protest in Srinagar on November 18, 2021.

Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah stages a protest in Srinagar on November 18, 2021.

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday ordered a magisterial inquiry into the encounter in Hyderpora , Srinagar, November 15 after three families claimed that the three deceased out of the four killed during the operation were “civilians”.

The order came hours after the police removed the family members from a protest site in the city.

“A magisterial inquiry by an officer of ADM [additional district magistrate] rank has been ordered in Hyderpora encounter. The government will take suitable action as soon as the report is submitted in a time-bound manner. The J&K administration reiterates commitment of protecting lives of innocent civilians and it will ensure there is no injustice,” a statement issued by Raj Bhawan read.

 

There has been a growing public outcry over the incident.

In a midnight action , the family members and protesters who had gathered at the Press Enclave on Wednesday to demand the bodies of the “civilians” were evicted and the sit-in was disallowed by the police. The family members were seen being dragged and bundled into a police vehicle during the police action that was carried out after snapping electricity in the area.

Mehbooba restricted

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said she was disallowed to come out of her residence to join the protest. “Their narrative right from the start was based on lies to escape accountability. They don’t want to be held accountable for their actions and that’s why they are muzzling voices that speak up against such injustice and atrocities,” she said in a tweet.

She accused the police of arresting party leaders Najmu Saqib and Suhail Bukhari. “They too have been arrested. The pattern of using innocent civilians as human shields and then denying their families the right to a decent burial shows that the Government of India has plumbed new depths of inhumanity,” she stated.

Sharing a video of the police action at night, National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah said, “This is the ‘Naya Kashmir’ of 2021. This is how the J&K police fulfils the Prime Minister’s promise to remove ‘dil ki doori and Dilli se doori’. It’s outrageous that the J&K administration did not allow the families to conduct a peaceful sit-in.”

Mirwaiz calls for shutdown

The Hurriyat, headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has called for a shutdown on Friday over the killings.

“Infant daughter, distraught mother protesting in freezing weather not for punishment to the killers but begging for the bodies for a decent burial is agonising,” the Mirwaiz said in a statement.

The manner in which the older brother of slain Altaf Bhat and other family members were being forcibly dragged and beaten up “is unbelievably inhuman”.

“To protest such inhumanity and in solidarity with the devastated families of the slain civilians and their demand that the dead bodies of their loved ones be returned to them for burial, people should observe a shutdown on Friday,” he stated.

On Tuesday, the police claimed that the security forces killed four persons, including a non-local militant, in a night-long joint operation by the police, the Army’s 2 Rashtriya Rifles and the CRPF in Hyderpora.

The police described slain locals Dr. Mudasir Gul and Arif Ahmad as “militant associate” and “hybrid militant” and termed house-owner, Altaf Bhat, a civilian, “who died in a crossfire”. However, the families and eyewitnesses accused the security forces of staging the encounter and using the civilians as “human shields”.

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