The Army, on Tuesday, said a high-level court of inquiry into last month's Operation Amshipora in Shopian is in progress to ascertain the claims of three families that the three men killed in the encounter were their relatives who had travelled to Shopian from Rajouri in search of work.
Army spokesperson in Srinagar, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, said the statements of key witnesses are being recorded and the progress of the probe is being monitored closely. “Additional civil witnesses are being asked to depose before the court of inquiry. Concurrently, DNA samples have been collected from Rajouri under the aegis of Jammu and Kashmir Police and sent for matching with the terrorists killed on 18 July, 2020,’’ Kalia said.
He said the Indian Army is committed to ethical conduct of all counter terrorist operations. “Cases where doubts are raised are investigated under due process as per the law of the land,’’ he said, adding, “Since the case is under investigation, further details will be shared periodically, as appropriate without affecting due legal process.”.
The operation came under scrutiny after the families of three men—Imtiyaz Ahmed, Ibrar Ahmed and his namesake Ibrar Ahmed—lodged a missing person complaint with Rajouri police. They said the men had travelled to Shopian in search of work and have not heard from them after July 17.
The families initially thought that the three men were not calling home because they were in quarantine or due to network troubles.
However, after photos of the three men killed in the encounter were circulated on the internet, the families grew anxious and approached police to trace their kin.
The police said they will order DNA matching of the three ‘militants’ killed in the encounter with their families to ascertain the facts. The families had recognised the three men from photos that were being circulated on the internet.
The killing of the three evoked widespread condemnation from political parties in Kashmir. PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, whose twitter account is handled by her daughter Iltija Mufti, said in a tweet that she was shocked to hear about reports of the three 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,’’ Mufti said.
CPI (M) leader M.Y. Tarigami said 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, he added. He pointed out that in the past too, civilians have been killed in fake encounters for rewards and promotions.
The NC said it had constituted a team to explore the possibility of moving court to ascertain the facts about the encounter.