Srinagar, Aug 18: The army on Monday said that a high level court of inquiry is under way into the alleged stage encounter of July 18 that took place at Amshipora, Shopian, and the statements of key witnesses are being recorded.

Three unidentified “militants” were killed in the encounter.

 

Around three weeks later, pictures of three dead bodies, purportedly of the slain militants, went viral shocking some families in Rajouri district of Jammu who identified the slain in the picture as their kin missing since July 17 in Shopian.

The missing trio, including a minor boy, had arrived in Shopian to work as labourers.

Abrar Ahmad Khan (16) 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, disappeared after they left home on July 16 to work as daily-wage labourers in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

On August 11, the army had stated that it had taken note of the “social media reports” where netizens had termed the encounter as a fake and maintained that “investigation into the matter was ordered.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Defence spokesman Rajesh Kalia said that as intimated on August 11, a “high level court of inquiry” into the operation at Amshipora, Shopian is under process.

“Statements of key witnesses are being recorded and progress is being monitored closely. Additional civil witnesses are being asked to depose before the CoI. Concurrently, DNA samples have been collected from Rajouri under the aegis of Jammu and Kashmir police and sent for matching with the militants killed on July 18, 2020,” Colonel Kalia said.

He said that the army is “committed to ethical conduct of all the Counter militancy operations”. “Cases where doubts are raised are investigated under due process as per the law of the land. Since the case is under investigation, further details will be shared periodically, as appropriate without affecting due legal process,” the Defence spokesman said.

Pertinently, a special team from Jammu and Kashmir Police had visited Rajouri recently and collected the samples of families of the slain trio.

The samples were sent to Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for cross matching the reports of which are expected by September 5. 

The families have been demanding an independent probe, a demand supported by the Amnesty International and other civil society groups.

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