SRINAGAR: Families of missing Rajouri laborers have demanded stringent punishment against the troops and officers involved in the cold-blooded murder of three youth in an alleged fake encounter at Amshipora in the Shopian district on July 18.
This follows the army’s admission that “three unidentified terrorists killed in operation Amshipora were Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohd Ibrar, who hailed from Rajouri”.
The army’s disclosure comes four days after Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha assured justice to the families of the missing laborers. “I assure that justice will be done”, he told media persons on September 14.
The Kashmir Monitor was the first to break the story about missing Rajouri laborers on August 10.
“We demand those involved in the cold-blooded murder should be hanged. From day one we have been demanding the bodies of the trio. It is very unfortunate. We demand that the bodies of the three youth should be handed over to the families for a decent burial,” Guftar Ahmad Choudhary, a tribal activist who has been fighting the case on behalf of the families, told The Kashmir Monitor.
Abrar Ahmad Khan, 17, son of Bagga Khan, his relative Abrar Ahmad, 25, son of Mohammad Yusuf, and Imtiyaz Ahmad, 20, son of Sabr Hussain, all residents of Peeri, Kotranka in Rajouri district, disappeared after they left home on July 16 to work as daily-wage laborers in South Kashmir’s Shopian district.
Over three weeks later, the families of the trio were shocked to see the purported picture of three alleged militants killed in an encounter at Amshipora village in the Shopian district on July 18.
The bodies bore a stark resemblance to two of the missing laborers – the teenage Abrar and the older Abrar. A third body in the picture is placed facedown with clothes pulled up over his head. Bullet marks can be seen on the back of the third body.
“Their DNA report is awaited. Their involvement with terrorism or related activities is under investigation by the police,” said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar.
Colonel Kalia said the inquiry has brought out certain prima facie evidence indicating that during the operation, powers vested under the AFSPA 1990 were exceeded and Army chief’s Do’s and Don’ts as approved by the Supreme Court has been contravened.
“Consequently, the competent disciplinary authority has directed to initiate disciplinary proceedings under the Army Act against those found prima-facie answerable. 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,” he said.
The army’s admission comes seven days after families of three missing Rajouri laborers knocked at the doors of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha demanding a probe into Shopian `fake’ encounter and making their DNA reports public.
“Our children (older and younger Abrar) left for Shopian for Shopian on July 16 in search of work where one of our relatives Imtiyaz Ahmed was already working in a house of Lambardar. After a couple of days, we lost contact with our children. So we decided to lodge a missing report in the concerned police station on August 8,” the family members said in a letter to Lieutenant Governor.
The former chief minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah also demanded stringent punishment against the guilty soldiers.
“The families of the three murdered men had continued to proclaim their innocence. Disciplinary action initiated by the army would suggest the army agrees with the families. The process must remain transparent & the guilty must face the full weight of the law,” he tweeted.