Mehbooba, MP Hasnain take up issue with LG
STATE TIMES NEWS
Srinagar: Two of the three youths killed in an encounter with security forces in the Parimpora area of the city were “radically inclined” and working as overground workers of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terror outfit, police said on Friday and added that the case was being investigated.
In a statement here, a spokesman of the Jammu and Kashmir Police said the claim of the family of one of the trio — Aijaz Maqbool Ganai — that he had gone to the university to fill up a form was verified through modern techniques and was found to be untrue.
The families of the slain youths have claimed that they had no connection with militancy. They staged a protest outside the police control room here and claimed that those killed included a Class 11 student, a university student and a carpenter.
A shutdown was observed in many parts of Srinagar on Friday against the killings of the youths in the encounter on Wednesday, officials said.
The police spokesman said the encounter started following inputs from the Army and was a joint operation of the Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the police.
“After the cordon was laid, terrorists lobbed grenade from inside and fired upon the search party. Although as per SoP, terrorists were repeatedly appealed by the troops to surrender in the evening and again in the morning. However, instead of surrendering, they fired upon troops and eventually got neutralised in a fire-fight, the spokesman said.
He said the claim of Ganai’s parents that he went to the university was verified and cross-checked through modern techniques, including records of the telecom department.
“Contrary to the claims, the verified digital evidence revealed and corroborated that Ganai and Ather Mushtaq had gone to Hyderpora and from there to the place of occurrence only, he said.
The police spokesman said another youth — Zubair Lone — had gone first to Pulwama, then Anantnag, where from he went to Shopian and then again to Pulwama and finally came to Parimpora here.
He said a background check has also revealed that Ganai and Mustaq were both overground workers (OGWs) and provided logistic support to militants.
“Antecedents and verifications too show that both were radically inclined and had aided terrorists of LeT — now so-called The Resistance Front (TRF) — outfit, the spokesman said.
The police said one of OGWs presently under police custody has also corroborated Ganai’s association with LeT militant Faisal Mustaq Baba who was killed in an encounter with security forces in the Meej area of Pampore in June last year.
Mushtaq was a relative and OGW of Hizbul Mujahideen top commander Rayees Kachroo who was killed in 2017, the spokesman said.
The police, however, said it is investigating the case.
“Nevertheless, police is investigating into the case from all possible angles, the spokesman added.
Mainstream political parties, including the National Conference, PDP and the Peoples Democratic Party, have called for an impartial investigation into the incident.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has sought an impartial investigation into the killing of three youths in an alleged fake encounter and demanded that the bodies be returned to their families.
In a letter to Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Mufti said such incidents brought “disrepute” to the armed forces and are “a grave violation” of human rights.
“I am sure you are aware of the unfortunate incident at Parimpora on 30th December. Three boys, the youngest being all of 17 years old, were killed in what the family has alleged to be a staged gunfight,” she said.
“Questions are also looming over this encounter & there are conflicting versions & reports from police & the army. Justice can be served only if its swift & therefore I request you to initiate an impartial investigation into the matter immediately,” the former chief minister said.
Mufti said the incident comes close on the heels of police filing a charge sheet against an Army officer and two others in connection with the killing of three men from Rajouri district in an alleged fake encounter at Amshipora in Shopian last July.
The PDP leader said she and the Lieutenant Governor might not be on the same page on most political matters, “but I am certain we agree that such incidents bring disrepute to the armed forces and are a grave violation of human rights”.
Mufti said while she was aware that the administration was apprehensive about returning the bodies of the three youths killed in Srinagar to their families, “this callous decision will only exacerbate their sense of loss and pain”.
“One hopes that you will rethink this decision and allow them to get closure. A mother who grieves the sudden & tragic death of her beloved son shouldn’t be deprived of the last chance to see his face. Nor does she deserve to have to beg for his dead body. This is simply inhuman & unacceptable,” she said in the letter.
Mufti urged Sinha to intervene and ensure that the families get a chance to perform the last rites as per their wishes.
Anantnag MP Hasnain Masoodi spoke to Sinha on Thursday evening over the issue, the National Conference said, adding that the Lt Governor has assured an impartial inquiry into the incident.
During the shutdown on Friday, shops and business establishments in several parts of Srinagar, especially in the old city, were shut. The shutdown was also observed in Maisuma and its adjoining areas near the Lal Chowk city centre.
However, public transport was plying normally in these areas, officials said.
The shutdown was observed after reports surfaced on social media that separatist groups had called for a strike across the valley on Friday to protest the killings.