Srinagar: Father of the missing and presumed dead minor youth from Rajouri is unaware of what has befallen his family as he is working as a labourer in Saudi Arabia, the family said on Tuesday.
Abrar Ahmad Khan (17) son of Bagga Khan, his brother-in-law Abrar Ahmad (25) son of Mohammad Yusuf, and their relative Imtiyaz Ahmad (20) son of Sabr Hussain, all residents of Peeri, Kotranka in Rajouri district, are missing since July 17 evening after they had gone to Shopian to work as labourers.
On July 18 morning, police and army claimed to have killed three unidentified militants in an encounter in the Amshipora area of the southern Kashmir district.
The family thought that the trio had been quarantined by the authorities since they travelled from a Jammu district to Kashmir, and as such didn’t report them missing even after not being able to reach them.
However, 24 days after they had last spoken to the missing trio, their families were shocked to see a photograph of purported slain militants bearing stark resemblance to two of the missing youth.
Lal Hussain, the maternal Uncle of the younger Abrar told The Kashmir Monitor that his father Bagga Khan was working in Saudi Arabia as a labourer for many years now.
“To support his family, he moved to Saudi Arabia to work as a construction labourer, no one has told him so far what has happened here,” said Hussain.
According to him, Abrar was in class 12 but due to lockdown the financial state of the family worsened, and he too decided to work as a labourer and move to Shopian along with his brother-in-law.
Two of the bodies in the picture, a family member told The Kashmir Monitor on Monday, are that of younger Abrar and the older one.
“It is clearly them. There is no question that it is not them. The younger one in the photograph (younger Abrar) is my paternal brother. The one on his left is the elder Abrar. The third one’s face is not visible (in the photograph),” the family member said.
A third body in the picture is placed facedown with clothes pulled up over his head. Bullet marks can be clearly seen on the back of the third body.
The families have already approached the police and lodged a formal missing report.
The Army too has already said it will investigate the matter.
“We have noted social media inputs linked to the operation at Shopian on 18 Jul 2020. The three Terrorists killed during the operation have not been identified and the bodies were buried based on established protocols. Army is investigating the matter,” said Srinagar-based defence spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia on Monday.
SSP Shopian, Amritpal Singh, told The Kashmir Monitor that an FIR stands registered in the July 18 Amshipora encounter.
Asked about the Rajouri families’ claims, he said no one has approached him so far.
On Tuesday, the SSP said that “so far there is no development in the case.”
“Once there is any development in it, you will be informed,” he said.
IGP Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, said he was “in a meeting and cannot talk.”
The official press statement released by police on July 18 clearly stated that they have preserved the DNA of three “unidentified militants” killed in Amshipora.
No identity or affiliation of the slain was revealed by the police in the statement.
Guftar Ahmad Chaudhary, tribal activist and general secretary of J&K Socio-Political Activist Movement, said the families suspect that they have been killed.
“They had earlier suspected that they had been put under quarantine because they had travelled from one region to another. Now they fear that they might have died or have been killed. But they are not certain. The families have not clarified yet,” he said.
Political parties demand impartial probe
Various political parties on Monday demanded a probe impartial and time bound probe to unearth the mystery behind the disappearance of three poor labourers of Rajouri district.
“The Lt. Governor led government in J&K is expected to order and pursue a serious, impartial and transparent investigation that leaves no stone unturned in finding out what happened to these three poor labourers who have lost contact with their families since July 17. The truth behind their missing must be unearthed as quickly as possible,” Bukari said in a statement issued here.
The JKAP president hoped that the government will assign the probe to some sitting judge who can lead the investigations while taking all the factors into consideration. Bukhari expressed solidarity with the families of these three missing labourers and assured them of all possible help in tracing the whereabouts of their loved ones.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) termed the reports of three missing labourers killed in a “staged encounter” at Shopian as “shocking and extremely excruciating episode and has said that such repressive measures have pushed Jammu and Kashmir in a precipice of a disaster.”
Reacting to the disappearance and alleged killing of the trio, Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija’s Mufti who operates her mother’s Twitter account tweeted on Monday: “Shocked to hear about reports of 3 missing labourers reportedly killed in a staged encounter at Shopian. Armed forces have a free hand to operate with impunity. Explains why bodies are allowed to decompose at unknown locations. Probes into recent encounters must be ordered.”
The incident of three labourers from Rajouri going missing from Shopian is a serious issue and needs a time-bound judicial probe, CPI (M) said in a statement.
“According to media reports the trio went missing just a day before the security forces claimed it killed three unidentified militants in Shopian. There are unverified reports that the missing labourers have been killed in a fake encounter in Shopian on July 18. This is shocking and must be probed by a sitting High Court judge in a time-bound manner,” read the statement.
“In the past also unfortunate incidents of civilians being killed in fake encounters for rewards and promotions have been reported in Kashmir. The 2010 unrest was the creation of the Machil fake encounter. Those who are proved to be involved in such heinous crimes be brought to justice,” the statement added.