Indian security forces including the Indian Army killed 3 people accused of militancy in an encounter in Shopian region of Jammu Kashmir last month, who are now being identified as missing laborers.
The three slain individuals, which include a 16 year old boy, were identified as missing laborers from Rajouri district who were missing since last 21 days when they lost communication with their families back at home in Rajouri.
The three missing individuals were identified as:
- Imtiyaz Ahmad S/o Sabir Hussain R/o Dar Sakri Tehsil, Kotranka, Rajouri
- Abrar Ahmad Khan S/o Bagha Khan R/o Dasakri Tehsil, Kotrankna, Rajouri
- Abrar Ahmad Gujar s/o Mohammed Yousuf R/o Tarkasi Tehsil, Kortanka, Rajouri.
Following are the images of the trio:
Just yesterday, on Sunday, the families of the missing laborers had filed a police report (FIR) at Peeri Police Post, in Rajouri district.
The three had left their homes on July 15 to find work in Kashmir. Amidst the lockdown due to COVID-19, the trio managed to reach Shopian district where they rented a room, and purchased some essentials, as per the family.
Speaking to local media, a relative of one of the missing 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.”
The families initially believed that the three must have been put into quarantine. But when no contact was established for several days, their suspicions started growing.
Now the Indian Army says that all three of them have been killed in an encounter carried out on July 18th in the village of Amshipora of district Shopian. This information was only made known to the family members of the missing laborers after they filed a police report (FIR).
Following is the press release from the Indian Army from July 18th:
On a specific input by 62RR about presence of terrorists in village Amshipora area of District Shopian, an operation was launched by them in the said area. During search terrorists fired upon Army personnel and encounter started. Later on police and CRPF also joined. During encounter three unidentified terrorists were killed. Dead bodies of all the killed three terrorists were retrieved from the site of encounter. The identification and affiliation of the killed terrorists is being ascertained. Incriminating materials, including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. All the recovered materials have been taken into case records for further investigation and to probe their complicity in other terror crimes. The dead bodies of the killed terrorists have been sent to Baramulla for their last rites after conducting medico-legal formalities including collection of their DNA. In case any family claims the killed terrorists to be their kith or kin, they can come forward for their identification and participation in last rites at Baramulla. Case FIR No. 42/2020 under relevant sections of law has been registered at Police Station Hirpora and investigation has been initiated into the matter.
On same day a press conference was also held by 12 Sector Commander Brigadier Ajay Kotach, giving details about the encounter, in which he claimed the three slain individuals were ‘Pakistani militants’. Following are some of the pointers from that press conference:
- On the basis of human input by forces we have launched search operation in Amshipora during night.
- As search party was about to reach the target area where we got the reports of 5 militants.
- We have successfully eliminated unidentified 3 militants who are supposed to be Pakistani as we we were getting reports about the presence of Pakistani militants in the area.
- This is a big success for the security forces as area would be militancy free soon.
- Incriminating material including some explosive IED material was recovered from the slain militants.
- Pakistan is trying to send militants in Kashmir so that peace would be disturbed here.
- Forces have inputs that militants will carry an attack on forces but we are ready to tackle any situation.
A senior Kashmiri journalist Ahmed Ali Fayaz wrote on Twitter that “all three ‘suspected militants’ killed in Amshipora Shopian ‘encounter’ on 18 July 2020, have been repeatedly 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.
Former Chief Minister of Jammu Kashmir, whose account is handled by her daughter these days, also tweeted on the incident:
Following the outrage among local population, local police officials say they are investigating the incident.
NOTE: A previous version of this article said that one of the victims, Abrar Ahmad Khan, was 13 years old. As per updated information, his age at the time of his death was 16.
UPDATE – December 29th, 2020: